Boots WebMD Partners in Health
Return To Boots

Children's and parenting health centre

New meningitis vaccine programmes

WebMD UK Health News
Medically Reviewed by Dr Sheena Meredith

22nd June 2015 - Two new vaccination programmes to protect children and teenagers from meningitis are to be introduced in England and Scotland.

From September 2015, babies aged 2 months will be offered the MenB vaccine which protects against meningococcal B disease. It will be administered alongside other routine infant vaccinations through the NHS Childhood Immunisation Programme, with a second dose given at 4 months and a booster at 12 months.

There will also be a limited catch-up programme for infants who are due their 3 and 4 month vaccinations in September.

The scheme was given the go-ahead in March after cost and supply issues were settled.

It means that England and Scotland will be among the first countries in the world to offer the vaccine to help protect against the deadly infection.

Wales and Northern Ireland are expected to follow suit at a later date.


From August 2015, all 17 and 18 year olds in England and Scotland will be offered a combined vaccine that protects against the A, C, W and Y strains of meningococcal disease.

The vaccine is being targeted at teenagers about to go to university, as they are at greater risk.

The jab will also be available to older students aged 19 to 25 who are starting university this autumn.

Additionally, from spring 2016, the MenACWY vaccine will be offered in schools to children in years 9 and 10, with a catch-up programme for those in year 11.

This school-based vaccine programme will replace the MenC-only vaccine currently offered to those in years 9 and 10.

Meningitis explained

Meningitis is the inflammation of the membranes that surround and protect the brain and spinal cord and is caused by different organisms, including bacteria and viruses.

The infection causes the membranes to become inflamed which can lead to nerve and brain damage.

The Meningitis Research Foundation says meningococcal disease is the biggest cause of bacterial meningitis in the UK. In 10% of cases, it leads to death, and in 36% of cases there are long-term complications.

The MenACWY vaccination programme is in response to the continued increase in the number of cases of a virulent new strain of meningococcal W (MenW) meningitis and septicaemia.

Although Men W cases have increased in all age groups, there has been a significant increase in university students. Teenagers and young people are more likely to carry meningococcal bacteria in the back of their throats.

Saving lives

Sue Davie, chief executive of the charity Meningitis Now, says in a statement: "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."

Reviewed on June 22, 2015

Children's health newsletter

Tips to inspire healthy habits
Sign Up

Popular slideshows & tools on BootsWebMD

agave syrup
These may not be so healthy
exercise illustration
The 7-minute workout
female patient consulting with female GP
How to boost your chances
bowl of soup
Small changes that lead to weight loss
heart rate graphic
What is it, and how is it treated?
smiling woman
Much more than weight loss
crossword puzzle
Tips for the first hard days
sperm and egg
Facts to help you get pregnant
Put your best face forward
sick child
Treating your child's cold & fever
couple makigh salad
How it can help with weight loss
couple watching sunset
How much do you know?