Meningococcal disease usually occurs as meningitis or septicaemia (blood poisoning).
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Meningitis can affect anyone, but is most common in babies, young children, teenagers and young adults. It can cause life-threatening septicaemia and result in permanent damage to the brain or nerves. There are 12 known groups of meningococcal bacteria (Neisseria meningitidis). Meningococcal group B (MenB) is responsible for about 9 in every 10 meningococcal infections in the UK.
More information about meningococcal disease and signs and symptoms: NHS 111 Wales - Meningitis (external site).
The MenB vaccine is the safest and most effective way to help protect against meningitis and septicaemia caused by meningococcal bacteria group B.
You can find more information on the vaccine and the disease it protects against at: NHS 111 Wales - Vaccinations (external site).
As part of the routine immunisation programme in Wales, the MenB vaccine is offered to babies at:
Some medical conditions increase the risk of severe infections. People who already have these conditions may need the MenB vaccine. The conditions include:
If you have any questions about the MenB vaccine, or you are not sure about when your baby or child should have it, you can contact your GP surgery for advice.
Babies will normally be given the MenB vaccination as an injection in their upper leg (thigh). Older children and adults will normally receive the MenB vaccination as an injection in their upper arm.
The MenB vaccine, Bexsero®, is the only vaccine currently available in the UK that offers protection against meningococcal group B bacteria.
Since September 2015, babies have been offered the MenB vaccine as part of the routine immunisation schedule in Wales. This is because the MenB vaccine is highly effective against serious infections caused by meningococcal group B bacteria.
Babies will need three doses of the MenB vaccine to be fully protected. Children who have missed vaccinations and received less than two doses of MenB vaccine in the first year of life should receive further doses before they reach two years of age.
If your child has missed any doses or you are in an at-risk group, speak to your GP or practice nurse for advice.
MenB vaccine is not routinely given to children over two years old unless they are in an at-risk group.
The most common side effect seen with the MenB vaccine in babies is a fever, or high temperature. Other common side effects of the MenB vaccine include:
It is recommended that babies are given infant liquid paracetamol to prevent fever after vaccination. The nurse will give you more information about paracetamol at your vaccination appointment.
It is a good idea to have some infant liquid paracetamol at home before the two-month vaccination visit. You can buy it from local pharmacies or supermarkets. Never give babies the higher-strength paracetamol liquid used for older children. Never give medicines that contain aspirin to a baby.
Other reactions are rare. For more information on common and rare side effects, see: NHS 111 Wales - Vaccinations (external site) and Medicines.org.uk - Bexsero Meningococcal Group B vaccine for injection in pre-filled syringe (external site).
If you are concerned about your baby’s health after any vaccination, speak to your doctor or call NHS 111 Wales. 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 yellowcard.mhra.gov.uk or by calling the Yellow Card scheme hotline on 0800 731 6789 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm).
If you would like to learn more about the MenB vaccine or the diseases it protects against, a number of information resources are available to help. You can also call NHS 111 or your GP practice for advice if you have any questions.
Some public information resources can be found at the links below.
To order copies of the leaflets, visit the Health Information Resources page.
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.
Meningococcal is a notifiable disease, which most commonly presents as either meningitis or septicaemia, or a combination of both, or conjunctivitis. In the UK, meningococcal infection is most often caused by the bacterium Neisseria meningitidis group B, although other serogroups can also cause disease. The incidence is highest in children under one year, and also ages 16 – 24 years. The organism is spread by respiratory droplets and has an incubation period of two to seven days.
In September 2015 a four component meningococcal B (4CMenB) protein vaccine, Bexsero® was introduced for infants at two, four and 12 – 13 months of age as part of the routine childhood programme.
Bexsero® is an inactivated injectable vaccine in a pre-filled syringe presentation. Bexsero® is an rDNA component adsorbed vaccine.
The MenB vaccine is effective against serious infections caused by meningococcal group B bacteria. The vaccine may also protect against infection by capsular groups other than group B.
See the link to the summary of product characteristics (SmPC) below for more information:
Bexsero®(NB: schedule guidance in the Green Book chapter 22 supersedes the SmPC)
The complete immunisation schedule includes information about routine and non-routine MenB vaccinations.
Policy, letters and Welsh Government
Vaccination programme recommendations from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) and Welsh Government policy can be found at the links below.
Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation - GOV.UK (read JCVI publications and statements; search e.g. meningococcal)
Welsh Health Circulars and Welsh Government letters for Meningococcal B disease
Paracetamol for the prevention and treatment of fever post immunisation against Meningococcal B disease (4 August 2015)
Introduction of MenB Immunisation for Infants (24 July 2015)
Online courses and training materials about number of vaccines and diseases can be accessed via the E-learning page.
Further immunisation training information and resources are provided on the Training Resources and Events page.
Meningococcal – The Green Book, chapter 22
Meningococcal B: vaccine information for healthcare professionals (UKHSA)
Patient group directions (PGDs) and protocols
PGD templates for Meningococcal vaccines can be found on the Patient group directions (PGDs) and protocols page.
Further clinical resources and information can be found on the following pages:
Vaccination surveillance information can be found on the pages below: