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Meningococcal disease usually occurs as meningitis or septicaemia (blood poisoning).

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Meningococcal disease usually occurs as meningitis or sepsis (blood poisoning).

Meningitis can affect anyone, but is most common in babies, young children, teenagers and young adults. It can cause life-threatening sepsis and result in permanent damage to the brain or nerves. There are 12 known groups of meningococcal bacteria (Neisseria meningitidis). Meningococcal disease is caused by several groups of meningococcal bacteria, the most common of which are groups A, B, C, W and Y.

More information about meningococcal disease and signs and symptoms: NHS 111 Wales - Meningitis (external site).

Everybody is at risk from meningococcal disease, but:

  • the under-fives are most at risk; and
  • teenagers and young adults are the second most at risk group.

MenACWY vaccine

Vaccination against meningococcal group C has been available since 1999.The MenC vaccine was introduced into the UK routine vaccination programme in 1999 and the MenACWY vaccine in 2015, there has been a big reduction in cases of MenC and MenW meningococcal disease.

You can find more information on the vaccine and the disease it protects against at: NHS 111 Wales - Vaccinations (external site).


Eligibility for the vaccine

Teenagers aged 13 to 14 years of age (school year 9) are routinely offered the MenACWY vaccine alongside the 3-in-1 teenage booster vaccine.

  • Young people under the age of 25 also remain eligible if they have never received the MenACWY vaccine.
  • Children and young people aged from 10 years up to their 25th birthday if they have an incomplete or unknown MenC vaccination history.
  • People with an increased risk of meningococcal disease due to an existing medical condition or treatment, travel, migration or their job, or close contact with a case of meningococcal disease may also be recommended to receive the MenACWY vaccine.


About the MenACWY vaccine

The brand names of the vaccines used in the UK are Menveo or Nimenrix.

The MenACWY vaccination is normally given as an injection in the top of the arm. 

Side effects of the MenACWY vaccine

The most common side effects of the MenACWY vaccine are:

  • pain, redness and swelling at the injection site
  • hardening and itching at the injection site
  • headache
  • nausea and loss of appetite
  • tiredness

For more information on side effects, see: 

If you are concerned about symptoms call NHS 111 Wales (external site). Calls to NHS 111 Wales are free from landlines and mobile phones.

You can report suspected side effects of vaccines and medicines through the Yellow Card scheme. You can do this online at or by calling the Yellow Card scheme hotline on 0800 731 6789 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm).  



Information for the public

If you would like to learn more about the MenACWY vaccine or the diseases it protects against, a number of information resources are available to help. You can also call NHS 111 Wales or your GP practice for advice if you have any questions.



Further information

It is still important to know the signs and symptoms of meningitis and septicaemia (meningococcal disease) even if you are vaccinated. This is because there are other bacteria that can also cause these illnesses, including the meningococcal group B (link) disease that is not covered by the MenACWY vaccine.

Meningitis Research Foundation is a leading UK, Irish and international charity that brings together people and expertise to defeat meningitis and septicaemia.

Meningitis Now is a national meningitis charity based in the United Kingdom.