We are calling on Government and GPs to extend the Men B vaccine to all children under the age of five and to families where there has been a case of meningitis. We also urging them to implement and complete an adolescent carriage study first recommended the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) in the February 2014.
We’ve put together some of the most frequently asked questions and answers:
Q. Who is more at risk of contracting Men B?
A. Everybody carries a very small risk, but certain age groups are more susceptible.
- The under-fives are the most at risk group, particularly the under ones
- Teenagers and young adults are the second most at risk group
- The over 55s are also an at risk group
Q. Can my children get the Men B vaccine?
A. The Men B vaccine is offered as part of the NHS routine immunisation schedule to babies aged 2 months, with a second dose at 4 months and a booster at 12 months.
Q. What happens if my child is over 4 months old?
A. If your child was born before 1st May 2015 she/he will not be offered the Men B vaccine as part of the routine immunisation schedule. The exception to this is for a small number of children who are very susceptible to infection. This includes children with no spleen, or those with disorders of a part of the immune system called the complement cascade.
Q. Why are you calling for the Men B vaccine to be given to children under 5?
A. Data published by Public Health England shows that over 50% of all Men B cases in 2015/2016 occurred in children under the age of 5.
Q. Why is the vaccine not already available to all children?
A. Babies under the age of one year are most at risk of Men B disease, with the number of cases peaking around 5 or 6 months of age.
Q. Is the vaccine still available privately?
Q. Does the vaccine protect against all types of meningitis?
A. No. The vaccine only protects against meningococcal group B (Men B) bacteria. There is currently no vaccine to protect against all types of meningitis. Remaining vigilant to the signs and symptoms of meningitis and septicaemia is vital and can save lives.
Q. What else is Meningitis Now doing in relation to the Men B vaccine?
When the Joint Committee for Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) recommended that the Men B vaccine should be given to infants, it also advised that an adolescent meningococcal carriage study should be undertaken. This study will determine whether the Men B vaccine not only prevents disease in adolescents, but also whether it reduces the amount of meningococcal bacteria carried in the back of the throats of those who are vaccinated. If carriage is reduced, then the risk of meningococcal bacteria spreading will also be reduced; providing indirect protection to others who haven’t been vaccinated.
Q. What support is available for parents whose children have been affected by Men B?
A. Meningitis Now offers free support to those affected by meningitis. This includes:
- Our Freephone meningitis helpline 0808 80 10 388
- Community support
- Online support
- Therapies such as counselling, creative therapies and complementary therapy.
- Financial support grants
- Peer support