Breaking news on meningitis vaccines

20th June 2015

Two new lifesaving meningitis vaccination programmes to begin this summer

Vaccine announcement

We’re delighted to see that two lifesaving vaccines – including the UK’s first Meningitis B vaccine – will be rolled out this summer.

Public Health Minister Jane Ellison has confirmed that England becomes the first country in the world to offer newborn babies the revolutionary new meningococcal group B (MenB) vaccine Bexsero via a national health service, from September 1.

Furthermore, to combat the rise in MenW cases in adolescents, all 17 and 18-year-olds will receive the combined Meningitis ACWY vaccine from August.

Welcoming the news, our chief executive, Sue Davie, said: “We’re delighted that yet another milestone in the journey to introduce these vaccines and protect our newborn babies and young people from the devastation meningitis causes has been reached – these measures will start to save lives straight away and for years to come."

“Through our Beat it Now! campaign over the last two years we have been pushing for the Meningitis B vaccine. It’s a tribute to you, our supporters’ selfless and tireless efforts, that we have now reached this stage.”

Here for you as long as you need us

“I appreciate that for some of you though these vaccines come too late and today’s announcement will have a bitter-sweet quality. Don’t forget that we’re here to help you for as long as you need us.”

Sue also sounded a note of caution about the announcement.

“Whilst this is good news we’re keen to ensure that people don’t take it to mean that meningitis is now beaten. Our message is ‘Don’t become complacent about meningitis’ – there are still strains for which there is no vaccine available and there will still be people who are not protected by these vaccine programmes.”

“Given that, it’s more important than ever to continue to raise awareness and for people to learn the signs and symptoms, stay vigilant and seek immediate medical help if you suspect the disease. Meanwhile, we will continue our Beat it Now! campaign to extend the availability of the MenB vaccine to other at-risk groups.”

Starting from August and September

The infant MenB immunisation programme will begin on 1 September. The vaccine will be offered for babies starting at two months of age, followed by another dose at four months and a booster dose at 12 months.

There will also be a limited catch-up programme for infants who are due their three and four month vaccinations in September.

The MenACWY vaccine programme will begin in August with 17 to 18-year-olds (School year 13) and older university entrants (aged 19 to 25) being offered the vaccine.

These age groups are at the highest risk of infection because of close contact in shared accommodation, such as university halls of residence.

The same age groups will be offered immunisation in 2016 and 2017.  

The measures announced apply to England only. Health services are devolved in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. For information on the situation there see our Q and A briefing