FAQs on COVID-19 and meningitis

In our recent coronavirus impact survey, many people had questions about COVID-19 and meningitis. While there is still a lot we don't understand about COVID-19, here we answer some of your questions

Meningitis Now awareness - Coronavirus FAQs letterbox v1

This is a quickly changing situation and we urge you to keep up to date with the latest guidance.

Visit https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus for more information.

COVID-19 and meningitis

Am I more at risk of catching COVID-19 after suffering from meningitis?

COVID-19 is an infectious disease caused by a newly discovered coronavirus. Most people infected with coronavirus will experience a mild to moderate respiratory illness and recover without needing special treatment. Older people and those with certain underlying medical problems like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer are more likely to develop serious illness.

There is no research to suggest that people who have suffered from meningitis are more likely to contract coronavirus or become seriously ill from COVID-19.

In the early stages of meningitis recovery, some people find that they are more prone to developing further infections for a short time. How long this period lasts for will be different for each person. However, long-term immunity problems are not a reported complication of meningitis.

I have been left with some after-effects from meningitis - will these increase my risk?

Some groups of people have been identified as having an increased risk of serious illness, should they contract COVID-19. Two levels of risk have been identified:  

  • High risk or clinical extremely vulnerable (this is the shielding group). 
  • Moderate risk or clinically vulnerable

Most of the after-effects following meningitis/meningococcal sepsis are not included in these at-risk groups.

However, a very small number of people who have specific meningitis after-effects may fit into one of these groups. Find out more about these at-risk groups.

Anyone in the clinical extremely vulnerable (shielding) group will have received a letter from their GP giving information about shielding.

COVID-19 and meningitis with sepsis

Am I more at risk if I suffered from sepsis as part of my meningitis experience?

Some bacteria that can cause meningitis can also cause septicaemia (sepsis), such as meningococcal septicaemia

In the early stages of sepsis recovery, some people find they are more prone to developing further infections and therefore have an increased risk of readmission. These people may be at increased risk of severe illness if they acquire COVID-19.

However, if, since your illness, you have been well and not experienced repeated infections or problems with your immunity then the impact of a COVID-19 infection is likely to be same the same of the majority of the population – in other words, a relatively mild illness.

Coronavirus and viral meningitis

Can the coronavirus cause viral meningitis?

As of the beginning of July, there have been over 12 million cases of COVID-19 worldwide. Only a handful of cases have reported patients with COVID-19 and meningitis at the same time. Currently there is no evidence to suggest that contracting COVID-19 makes it more likely that viral meningitis will reoccur. COVID-19 is a new disease and there is still much to learn. We will be monitoring the situation closely.

Concerned someone may have meningitis

I am worried that someone may have meningitis, but I am worried about getting urgent medical advice with the current pandemic

Meningitis is a life threatening condition requiring urgent diagnosis and treatment. During this pandemic, our advice remains the same - if you think someone has meningitis, do not delay, seek urgent medical advice by calling NHS 111 or your GP surgery. In an emergency dial 999.

Always know the signs and symptoms.

Vaccinations

Should my child still receive their routine vaccinations that protect against meningitis?

It is vital for babies and children to continue to receive their vaccinations, following the routine immunisation schedule. This will ensure that your child is protected against vaccine-preventable diseases, including some of the major causes of meningitis. Ensuring everyone is up to date with their vaccines will also help the current COVID-19 pandemic by avoiding outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases and putting further pressure on the NHS.

If your baby or child is due any routine vaccinations please check with your GP surgery for current arrangements. Many GP surgeries will have this information online. Currently, GP surgeries are operating a ‘triage’ system for all queries and appointments.

Need support?

Meningitis Now are still here to support you LB

If you have any more questions about COVID-19 and meningitis, please call our Helpline team on 0808 80 10 388 or email Helpline@meningitisnow.org. As everyone's experience of meningitis is so different, we are unable to comment on an individual's health status, and we are not able to give medical advice. However, our nurse-led Helpline can provide information, reassurance and a listening ear.