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New programmes to protect against meningitis and septicaemia

MenB and MenACWY vaccination programmes launched this summer will protect babies and young people against the meningococcal bacterium.

The two programmes, announced yesterday by public health minister Jane Ellison, will be introduced in England.

MenACWY vaccine

From August 2015 all 17 and 18 year olds in school year 13 will be offered a combined vaccine that protects against the A, C, W and Y strains of meningococcal disease. The vaccine is particularly important for those who are heading off to university, as they are at greater risk. The vaccine will also be available to older students aged 19 to 25 who are starting university this year.

From spring 2016 there will also be a school-based vaccination programme for MenACWY, which will replace the MenC-only vaccine that is currently offered to school Years 9 and 10. There will also be a catch-up programme for those in Year 11

MenB vaccine

From September, babies aged 2 months will be offered the MenB vaccine, which protects against meningococcal B disease, followed by a second dose 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, to protect them when they are most at risk.

The MenB programme means that England is the first country in the world to begin national and publicly funded Men B immunisation. This will be offered alongside other routine infant vaccines through the NHS Childhood Immunisation Programme.

Jane Ellison said:

I am very proud that we will be able to offer families extra peace of mind with these new vaccination programmes from this summer.

The nationwide MenB programme will mean that England leads the world in offering children protection from this devastating disease.

How to get the vaccines

GP practices will offer the MenB vaccine alongside other routine infant vaccines, and they will contact parents in the usual way. For the MenACWY vaccine, they will invite eligible young people to come for vaccination. If a young person is still at school, the school will contact parents with arrangements for vaccination. GPs and schools will receive information and guidance in the coming weeks.

Public Health England, NHS England and NHS Employers have developed both immunisation programmes.

In March this year, Jeremy Hunt announced that a deal had been struck with British vaccine manufacturer GlaxoSmithKline to add MenB vaccine Bexsero to the childhood immunisation programme.

In the same month, the government’s independent vaccine advisors, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, advised that 14 to 18 year olds should be immunised using the combined MenACWY vaccine due to rising cases of MenW.


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