Meningitis - Vaccination 

Meningitis vaccination 

There are a number of vaccines that can prevent many cases of viral and bacterial meningitis.

The vaccines available include:

Children should receive these vaccines as part of their childhood vaccination programme. Speak to your GP if you are not sure whether your vaccinations are up-to-date.

Vaccine for meningitis B

In January 2013 a new meningitis B vaccine called Bexsero was licensed by the European Commission. This means the vaccine should become available for use in the UK.

Read more in our Q&A on New meningitis B vaccine approved for UK use.

Meningitis vaccines for travellers

Groups A, Y and W135 are more common elsewhere in the world. If you are travelling abroad, you can be vaccinated against groups A, C, W and Y of the meningococcal bacteria.

High-risk areas

High-risk areas for meningococcal meningitis include:

  • parts of Africa
  • Saudi Arabia

Vaccination against groups A, C, Y and W135 meningitis is recommended if you are travelling to a high-risk area and you will be:

  • staying for longer than one month backpacking
  • living with locals in rural areas attending the Hajj or Umrah pilgrimages (religious journeys to Mecca, the centre of the Islamic world) in Saudi Arabia
  • doing seasonal work in the Hajj area of Saudi Arabia

Visitors arriving in Saudi Arabia for the Hajj and Umrah pilgrimages, and seasonal workers in the Hajj area, require proof of vaccination against groups A, C, Y and W135 meningitis.

The vaccine

The conjugate ACYW135 meningococcal vaccination will protect you against groups A, C, Y and W135 meningitis. This should be given two to three weeks before you travel.

For adults and children over five years of age, a single dose provides protection for about five years. For children who were under five years of age when they were first vaccinated, the vaccine gives protection for two to three years.

For infants aged between two months and two years, the initial dose of the vaccine must be followed by a second dose three months later.

The meningitis vaccine is not suitable for babies younger than two months old.

For up-to-date information about which areas are considered to be high risk, see:

Read more information about travel vaccinations.

Side effects

About 10% of people experience soreness and redness at the injection site after having the ACWY vaccine to protect against groups A, C, W135 and Y meningitis. This usually lasts around 24-48 hours. Mild fever can also occur (this is usually more common in young children than in adults). Severe reactions are very rare.

Page last reviewed: 14/06/2012

Next review due: 14/06/2014


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Research into meningitis

Meningitis UK's sole focus is to fund research into developing vaccines that eradicate all forms of meningitis and associated diseases.

Find out more about their research development .

Men C vaccine

Why the Men C vaccination is important in preventing the c strain of meningitis

Travel vaccinations

Learn about the vaccinations available for travellers, and the diseases they protect against