Current vaccines

Effective vaccines are available to prevent some types of meningitis and septicaemia, but not all

Current vaccines

Men B and ACWY vaccines – LATEST NEWS June 2015

Download our fact sheet for up-to-date information about changes to the vaccine

Men B

  • Meningococcal group B bacteria are now the most common cause of bacterial meningitis in the UK
  • A Men B vaccine will be included in the childhood immunisation programme from 1st September 2015
  • Men B vaccine will offered at GP appointments alongside other routine vaccines and parents will be contacted in the usual way.
  • The vaccine will be offered to babies aged 2 months, with a second dose at 4 months and a booster at 12 months.
  • There will be a limited catch-up programme for babies who are due their 3 and 4 month vaccinations in September so they are also protected when they are most at risk of Men B infection
  • Frequently asked questions

Our Beat it Now! campaign began in January 2013 after a Men B vaccine, Bexsero, was licensed for use in Europe. Our campaign aim is simple, to get the UK Government to introduce the vaccine free on the NHS, as part of the immunisation programme.

Men W

Meningococcal group W (Men W) has historically been rare in the UK but since 2009 year on year cases of Men W have increased and continue to do so. A particularly aggressive strain of Men W is causing disease in all age groups but there has been a significant increase in university students.

As a result of this increase in cases the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has advised that a Men ACWY vaccine should be offered to 14 -18 year-olds to prevent the transmission of this strain.

Teenagers are more likely to carry meningococcal bacteria in the back of their throats. Giving a vaccine to 14 – 18 year olds and new university students will directly protect this age group and also reduce the chance of the bacteria spreading to others.

Men ACWY vaccine programme began August 2015

17 – 18 year olds (school year 13) and older university entrants (aged 19 – 25) will be offered one dose of the vaccine in primary care (GP). The same age groups will also be offered the vaccine in 2016 and 2017. 

From Spring 2016 the Men ACWY will replace Men C which is currently offered to year 9 or 10 (depending on local arrangements). This school-based programme will also provide a catch-up to include pupils in year 11 (15 and 16 year olds).

Frequently asked questions

Download info on new Men B and ACWY vaccines update to routine vaccination schedule 2015 


  • Haemophilus influenzae type b bacteria can cause meningitis and septicaemia
  • Before the vaccine was introduced in 1992, Hib was the leading cause of bacterial meningitis in children under five
  • Due to the success of this vaccine, Hib meningitis is now very rare
  • A combined vaccine that protects against Hib, diphtheria, tetanus, polio and pertussis (whooping cough) is offered to babies at two, three and four months
  • A different combined vaccine that protects against Hib and meningococcal group C (Men C) disease is given as a booster at 12-13 months
Men C

  • Meningococcal bacteria can cause meningitis and septicaemia (meningococcal disease)
  • There are five groups; A, B, C, W and Y which commonly cause disease
  • Since the introduction of a meningococcal group C (Men C) vaccine in 1999, cases of group C disease have fallen by over 90% in all age groups
  • The Men C vaccine is offered to infants aged 12-13 months, with a booster at around 14 years of age
Pneumococcal vaccines

  • Pneumococcal bacteria can cause meningitis and septicaemia
  • There are over 90 different strains of pneumococcal bacteria, but not all strains cause disease
  • A pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV) protects against 13 strains that commonly cause disease. It is offered to babies at two, four and 12-13 months

  • A pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPV) is routinely offered to anyone aged 65 years and over
  • It protects against 23 strains of pneumococcal bacteria
  • It only has a limited period of protection and isn’t 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.


  • The MMR vaccine protects against mumps, measles and rubella (German measles)
  • Prior to the introduction of this vaccine, mumps was a common cause of viral meningitis in young children
  • The vaccine is given at 12-13months with a booster dose at around four years

Other meningitis vaccines


  • The BCG vaccine protects against tuberculosis (TB), which is caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis bacteria. These bacteria can cause TB meningitis
  • The current immunisation programme in the UK targets babies, children and adults who are most at risk; this includes health workers and those who have been in contact with someone who has TB
  • Anyone travelling to areas of the world where the incidence of TB is high should also have this vaccine. Find out more


  • The MenACWY vaccine is also available to prevent groups of meningococcal disease that occur outside the UK
  • Meningococcal group A disease is prevalent in Sub Saharan Africa and causes annual epidemics resulting in thousands of deaths. Visitors to this region should be vaccinated before travelling
  • Meningococcal group W has caused outbreaks of disease in pilgrims travelling to Hajj or Umrah and it is now a legal requirement that these visitors are vaccinated before entering Saudi Arabia

Download our vaccines factsheet here

If you have any questions, call our Meningitis Helpline on 0808 80 10 388.