Vaccines are available to prevent some types of meningitis and most of these are available as part of the UK routine immunisation schedule.
However, not all types of meningitis can be prevented by these vaccines. It is important to know the signs and symptoms and seek urgent medical help if you are concerned.
- Meningococcal group B (MenB) bacteria are the most common cause of bacterial meningitis in the UK
- A MenB vaccine is offered to babies at 2, 4 and 12 months
- The vaccine is also available privately
Our Beat it Now! campaign began in January 2013 after the MenB vaccine, Bexsero, was licensed for use in Europe. Now the vaccine is available to infants as part of the UK routine immunisation schedule.
- Meningococcal group W (MenW) disease has historically been rare in the UK, but from 2009 cases of MenW began to increase year on year
- From Autumn 2015, a MenACWY vaccine replaced the MenC vaccine for children in school. It is offered around 14 years of age
- Any young person who has missed this vaccine at school, remains eligible to receive it up to the age of 25 years. This is especially important for new university entrants, for whom the risk of contracting meningococcal disease increases
- A pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV) protects against 13 strains that commonly cause disease. Babies born on or after 1 January 2020 are offered the vaccine at 12 weeks and 12-13 months.
- A pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPV) is offered to anyone aged 65 years and over
- It protects against 23 strains, but only has a limited period of protection and is not effective in children under two
Pneumococcal vaccines are also recommended for adults and children who are at increased risk of pneumococcal disease, for example, those with chronic respiratory or heart disease and those with cochlear implants.
Anyone who has had invasive pneumococcal disease, including meningitis, should actively seek immunisation.
Other meningitis vaccines
- Prior to the introduction of a vaccine in 1992, Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) bacteria were the most common cause of bacterial meningitis in children under five
- A combined vaccine that protects against Hib, diptheria, tetanus, polio, pertussis and hepatitis B is offered to babies at 2, 3 and 4 months
- A different combined vaccine (Hib and Men C) is offered at 12-13 months
- The MMR vaccine protects against measles, mumps and rubella
- It is offered at 12-13 months and again at 3 – 4 years
- Prior to the introduction of this vaccine, mumps was a common cause of viral meningitis in young children
- The BCG vaccine protects against tuberculosis (TB)
- This vaccine gives good protection against TB meningitis
- The current immunisation programme in the UK targets babies, children and young people who are most at risk
- The vaccine is also offered to health workers and those who have been in contact with a TB case