MenW immunisation

A recent rise in the incidence of meningitis W has prompted the UK government to recommend immunisation of all children between the ages of 11-18. Meningitis and meningococcal disease is caused by infection with a bacterium Neisseria Meningitidis (commonly known as meningococcus).  Invasive meningococcal disease (IMD) is uncommon but infection can progress rapidly to serious disease or death in previously healthy people.  The highest incidence is in children under five years of age with a peak incidence in those under one year of age.  There is a secondary peak in incidence in young people aged 15-19.  The overall mortality risk for IMD is high (between 5-10%) and up to 35% of children and adolescents surviving infection will develop permanent complications (limb amputations, brain damage, deafness and neurological problems).

 There is some confusion about the different types of vaccines available so here is a brief outline.  There are 13 strains of meningococcus in total, but we only have the following vaccinations:

Meningitis C vaccine (started in 1999) has been given as part of the UK national immunisation program to all babies. Until recently it has also been given as a booster in school year 8 and to all students starting university. 

Meningitis B vaccine will be given to all babies on the UK national immunisation program in September.  There is no catch up program and the vaccine is available privately and can be given at this practice.  We recommend meningitis B immunisation for all babies, and sometime in secondary school or before starting university. 

Quadrivalent meningococcal conjugate vaccine (Men ACWY).  This vaccine provides protection against four strains of meningitis: A C W and Y and from this month has replaced the Men C vaccination given as a booster in school year 8.  Until recently this vaccine was only given to people travelling to certain parts of the world where these strains of meningococcus were prevalent.  With the recent increase in the incidence of Men W infection in the UK we are now offering this vaccination to all children between the ages of 14-18.  The effectiveness of this vaccine in an adolescent vaccination program in the US consisting of a single dose has been estimated at 80-85%.  Immunity lasts for around 5 years and so if the vaccination is given earlier than aged 14 a second dose will be needed. 

We recommend if you have a child aged 14-18 they should have the Men ACWY immunisation. We carry stock of this vaccine at our practice.  To book an appointment call 01865 423425 or email

 If my child has had a MenC vaccine at the age of 14 should they have a MenACWY vaccine?  Yes it is safe to give a second dose and this is what we would recommend 

Can my child have MenACWY and MenB at the same time?  Yes it is safe to give both vaccines at the same time 

What is the vaccine schedule for MenB vaccine?  This varies according to age of the child at the time that they have the first vaccine.  Please call the office for more information 

If I am at university do I need to have a MenACWY? There is a peak of incidence of meningococcal disease in students attending university and so we would recommend that you have a MenACWY immunisation even if you had a MenC immunisation recently and it is safe to have a second dose


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