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Promoting Vaccine Uptake

Vaccines are the best way to prevent meningitis. The NHS provides vaccines to help protect against meningitis to those most at risk. However, vaccines do not exist to protect against all causes of meningitis and no vaccine is 100% effective.

Student receiving meningitis vaccine

MenACWY vaccine

The MenACWY vaccine is very effective in protecting against four different strains of meningococcal disease (meningococcal groups A, C, W and Y). It will not protect against MenB or other causes of meningitis. Since 2015 the MenACWY vaccine has been offered to teenagers, around the age of 14 years, through the school vaccine programme. When the vaccine has been given at school, there is no need for a booster before starting university.

During the COVID pandemic, there was some disruption to the school vaccine programme and some students may have missed this vaccine. Students from overseas, may also not have been offered, or be aware of, this vaccine. Students should be urged to check their vaccine status, ideally before starting university. Any student who has missed the MenACWY vaccine remains eligible to have this until the age of 25 years and should be encouraged to seek vaccination from their GP/university health centre.

MenB vaccine

Most students will not have been vaccinated against MenB (meningococcal group B). The NHS offers the MenB vaccine to babies and to those with specific underlying health conditions. Some parents and students may choose to seek this vaccine from private providers such as pharmacies, travel clinics or private GP services. MenB is currently the most common cause of meningitis in students. Therefore, it remains vital for students to be aware of the signs and symptoms of meningitis and to seek urgent medical advice if they are concerned about their or someone else’s health.

Our fact sheet provides further information about meningitis vaccines. If you have any questions regarding meningitis vaccines, please contact our nurse-led helpline on 0808 08 10 388 or email: helpline@meningitisnow.org.