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This service is for adults and children. The vaccine is given by injection into the upper arm or upper leg. A course of two separate doses is usually required and for children under 2 years, a booster is required after one year. This vaccination is a private service, not paid for by the NHS. Before your Pharmacist can give the Meningitis B vaccine an assessment questionnaire needs to be completed.

Meningitis is an infection around the brain, which is often serious and sometimes fatal. Typically, meningococcal disease is most common in babies and children under five, with a second peak in adolescence. There are different types of Meningitis Bacteria, called strains. For decades, the Meningitis B strain has been the most common cause of bacterial meningitis in the UK. Vaccines are the only way to prevent meningitis and have almost eliminated some other kinds of meningitis in the UK. Bexsero is an inactivated vaccine, which means it does not contain living bacteria. The vaccine protects against infection, but cannot cause meningitis.

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How effective is the Meningitis B (Bexsero) vaccine?


Studies in infants, toddlers and adolescents have shown Bexsero vaccine will cover approximately 88% of meningitis B circulating in the UK. The actual proportion of cases prevented will depend on other things too, including how widely the vaccine is offered and taken up, whether it prevents the bacteria from being carried and passed on as well as protecting from disease, how long protection lasts, and whether it works sufficiently well in all age groups. How long protection last is not yet known, although it is likely to be a number of years. There are no data on the use of Bexsero in adults above 50 years of age or in patients with chronic medical conditions or with weakened immunity. If you or your child have weakened immunity (for example, due to the use of immunosuppressive medications, or HIV infection, or hereditary defects of the body’s natural defence system), it is possible that the effectiveness of Bexsero will be reduced.

How many doses are needed?


A course of two doses are required to provide fullest protection. A single vaccine injection with Bexsero will provide only limited protection. There needs to be an interval between the two injections of at least two months for 2 to 10 year olds, and an interval of at least one month between injections for adults and children from 11 years. At present there are no recommendations about the need for further booster doses at a later date. Children under 2 years require a booster after 12 months.

Will I or my child be entitled to receive this vaccine free on the NHS?


From September 2015 all infants born on or after 1 May 2015 can receive Meningitis B vaccination free through the NHS primary immunisation programme at 2 months, 4 months, and 1 year of age. There is no current UK recommendation for older children, adolescents or adults to be vaccinated on the NHS (March 2015). In theory, vaccinating teenagers could have benefits for the whole population, in addition to directly protecting those vaccinated.

Teenagers are the main carriers of meningococcal bacteria, so if vaccinating them could prevent them from carrying the bug and passing it on, it could protect everyone, including people who aren’t vaccinated. The Meningitis B vaccine is offered free of charge on the NHS to people with medical conditions that put them at high risk of getting meningococcal disease, including children and adults with uncommon conditions, such as asplenia, splenic dysfunction or complement disorders (including those on complement inhibitor treatment). Many people who have risk factors do not find out that they are at risk until after they get meningococcal disease.

How much will the vaccine cost from my pharmacy?


Bexsero is a new and relatively expensive vaccine. Pharmacies need to buy-in the vaccine, carry out pre-vaccine checks, and administer the vaccine by injection. Pharmacies set their prices accordingly to cover all these costs. Please ask your pharmacist the cost.

What are the side effects and is the vaccine safe?


As with all drugs, vaccines can cause side effects. Vaccine side effects may include soreness/redness/swelling or hardness of skin at the injection site, fever, lack of appetite, muscle aches, irritability, sleepiness and rashes. In extensive studies no serious medical complications were reported and rates of fever and local reactions were similar to that of other routine immunisations. Severe allergic reactions to current vaccines is very rare and is estimated to occur in one in a million doses given. Food allergies are not a reason to avoid vaccination. People often worry that eczema, asthma, epilepsy and a family history of reactions to vaccinations are a reason to avoid vaccinations, but this is not true. Pregnancy and breast-feeding women should ask the advice of their doctor before vaccination. There is no known risk to pregnancies, but your doctor may advise delaying vaccination, or going ahead, if you are at risk of exposure to meningococcal infection.

Can Bexsero be given at the same time as other routine vaccines?


Yes. The side effects seen when Bexsero is given with other vaccines in the routine childhood schedule are the same as those commonly seen with vaccines in general. This is also true when the vaccine is given at the same time as hepatitis B and chicken pox vaccines. Fever is more common in babies when Bexsero is given alongside other vaccines although taking paracetamol after getting vaccinated (or at the same time) reduces the likelihood and severity of fever without affecting the immune response to any of the vaccines.

Further information:
NHS Choices Meningitis B pages: