Changes to the routine vaccination programmes against meningitis

Published on: Friday, 10-July-2015

From this summer, additional vaccines will be added to the routine schedule which will offer additional protection against some types of meningococcal disease.

Meningococcal disease is a life-threatening infection. It is a term used to

describe two major illnesses – meningitis (inflammation of the membranes that surround the brain) and septicaemia (blood poisoning).

There are a few different groups of the bacteria that cause the disease - A, B, C, W and Y. In response to changes in the groups that are commonly causing disease, there have been changes to the routine vaccination schedule for babies and children.

The new programme will cover:

  • A new vaccine against Meningitis B (Men B) for babies aged two months, 4 months and 12 months from September as part of their routine vaccinations.
  • A new vaccine against MenACWY – this will replace the existing vaccine which works only against Men C. This will be added to the routine school Year 9 or 10 programme from the autumn.
  • The Men ACWY vaccine will also replace the existing time-limited ‘freshers’ programme (for older first time university entrants who have not already received MenACWY) through GPs as a direct replacement of the MenC vaccine.
  • There will also be a catch up campaign against Meningitis ACWY for 13 year olds through GPs as well as a vaccination programme for Year 10 pupils through schools from January 2016. 

You will receive further information from your GP or via the school if you are required to have the vaccination.

Parents should be aware that there are still other types and causes of meningitis and septicaemia, so knowing the signs and symptoms to look out for is vital.  These include:

  • Pale blotchy skin - with or without a rash
  • A rash that does not fade when pressed with a glass (the tumbler test) due to bleeding under the skin
  • Sudden onset of high fever
  • A severe and worsening headache (without any other obvious cause)
  • Severe neck stiffness
  • Muscle pains
  • Vomiting
  • Dislike of bright lights
  • Irritability and/or confusion
  • Very cold hands and feet
  • Drowsiness, difficult to wake up

Further information can be found on the NHS Choices website.