Meningococcal meningitis London

Babies born Early Antibody Response to Men B vaccination

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Meningitis (infection of the lining of the brain) and septicaemia (blood poisoning) have many causes; an important cause in the UK is a bacteria called Meningococcus. Vaccination protects against some forms of Meningococcus by encouraging the body to make antibody to the bacteria - a chemical which helps fight the bacteria if it is encountered.

In the UK babies are vaccinated according to the same schedule whether they are born early (preterm) or on time, but there are concerns that preterm babies may not respond as strongly to their vaccinations- this may result in less protection. In 2015 a new vaccine, the Men B vaccine, was introduced. We do not have any evidence as to whether this will work as well in preterm babies compared with term babies. This project will compare responses made by babies who are vaccinated according to two different schedules. This could help us make decisions about what programme should be followed for preterm babies.

What the research team will do

The research team will recruit 136 preterm babies. They will randomly assign these babies to one of the two study groups with one group receiving a Men B vaccine at 8 weeks and 16 weeks of age (the current UK schedule for Men B in term babies) and the other receiving an additional dose at 12 weeks. Blood tests will be obtained over the study period to check the babies’ antibody levels. The research team will also ask parents/caregivers to keep a record of any reactions that occur after their babies’ vaccinations.

This project is being partially funded by Meningitis Now. Other funding is being provided by GSK.

How this project will help us fight meningitis

This project could help us to determine what vaccination programme should be followed for preterm babies to help protect them against meningococcal meningitis.  

Help support this research

This research is only made possible by the generous support of people like you. Help us continue by donating, or raising funds for our work. On behalf of everyone who will benefit, now and in the future, thank you.


Professor Paul Heath, Dr Anna Calvert, Dr Shamez Ladhani, Dr Helen Findlow 


St George’s, University of London

More information

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