Men B vaccine

A new vaccine to prevent meningitis is being offered to babies as part of the routine NHS childhood vaccination programme

The Men B vaccine is recommended for babies aged 2 months, followed by a second dose at 4 months, and a booster at 12 months.

The Men B vaccine will protect your baby against infection by meningococcal group B bacteria, which are responsible for more than 90% of meningococcal infections in young children.

Meningococcal infections can be very serious, causing meningitis and septicaemia (blood poisoning), which can lead to severe brain damage, amputations and, in some cases, death.

Meningitis and septicaemia caused by meningococcal group B bacteria can affect people of any age, but is most common in babies and young children.

The new programme makes England the first country in the world to offer a national, routine and publicly funded Men B vaccination programme.

Which babies should have the Men B vaccine?

The Men B vaccine is offered to babies alongside their other routine vaccinations at:

  • 2 months
  • 4 months
  • 12 months

The vaccine has the brand name Bexsero, and is given as a single injection into the baby's thigh.

The Men B vaccine can be given at the same time as other routine baby vaccinations, such as the 5-in-1 vaccine and pneumococcal vaccine.

Can vaccines overload a baby's immune system?

Your doctor's surgery or clinic will automatically send you an appointment for you to bring your baby for their Men B vaccination alongside their other routine vaccinations. Most surgeries and health centres run special immunisation or baby clinics. If you can't get to the clinic, contact the surgery to make another appointment.

Find out when your baby should have the Men B vaccine.

Read the patient information leaflet for Bexsero.

Men B vaccine safety

Like all vaccines, the Men B vaccine can cause side effects, but studies suggest they are generally mild and don't last long.

Almost 8,000 people, including more than 5,000 babies and toddlers, have had the new Men B vaccine during clinical trials to test its safety.

Since the vaccine was licensed, almost a million doses have been given, with no safety concerns identified.

Men B vaccine and fever

Babies given the Men B vaccine alongside their other routine vaccinations at two and four months are likely to develop fever within the first 24 hours after vaccination.

It's important that you give your baby liquid paracetamol following vaccination to reduce the risk of fever. Your nurse will give you more information about paracetamol at your vaccination appointment.

Other common side effects include irritability and redness and tenderness at the injection site. The liquid paracetamol will also help with these symptoms.

Read this NHS leaflet on how to use paracetamol to prevent and treat fever after Men B vaccination.

Read more about possible Men B vaccine side effects.

Meningitis B is a killer

Meningococcal group B bacteria is a serious cause of life-threatening infections, including meningitis and blood poisoning, worldwide and the leading infectious killer of babies and young children in the UK.

There are 12 known groups of meningococcal bacteria, and group B (Men B) is responsible for about 90% of meningococcal infections in the UK.

Meningococcal infections tend to come in bursts. In the past 20 years, between 500 and 1,700 people every year, mainly babies and young children, have suffered from Men B disease, with around 1 in 10 dying from the infection. Many of those who survive suffer terrible permanent disability, such as amputation, brain damage and epilepsy.

Read more about meningitis.

Men B vaccine protection

There are hundreds of different strains of meningococcal group B bacteria around the world, and some tests predict that the Men B vaccine protects against almost 90% of the ones circulating in England. However, it's not yet clear how this will relate to lives saved or cases prevented.

How the Men B vaccine works

The Men B vaccine is made from three major proteins found on the surface of most meningococcal bacteria, combined with the outer membrane of one Men B strain. Together, these constituents stimulate the immune system to protect against future exposures to meningococcal bacteria.

For more detail on the ingredients of the Men B vaccine, read the patient information leaflet for Bexsero.

Read more about vaccine ingredients.

Different types of meningitis vaccines

There are two vaccines against the other common strains of meningococcal disease  the Men ACWY vaccine (against meningococcal groups A, C, W and Y) which is offered on the NHS to teenagers and first-time students and the Men C vaccine (against meningococcal group C) for babies.

Since the Men C vaccine was introduced into the NHS's national childhood vaccination programme in 1999, the disease has been virtually eliminated in the UK. Nowadays, there are just a handful of Men C cases each year, mainly in older, unvaccinated adults.

Read about the benefits of childhood vaccinations.

Page last reviewed: 26/06/2015

Next review due: 26/06/2017


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The 10 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

Kathryn at NHS Choices said on 09 November 2015

Dear Jadexriahx,

Your baby wasn’t eligible for the Men B vaccine in the first place.

The programme, which began on the 1 September 2015, is offered to babies aged 2 months of age with further shots at 4 months and 12 months of age. Babies born before the 1 May 2015 were not eligible.

That said, if you wish to complete the course you can do this privately, but you will be liable for the cost of the vaccine and its administration.

As your daughter is over the age of 12 months, she would require one further dose of Men B vaccine to be given at least 2 months after the first dose to complete the course.

Best wishes,
Kathryn Bingham, editor at NHS Choices

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Jadexriahx said on 04 November 2015

my daughter was born 19-06-2014, due to common illnesses she didn't have her 12 month vaccines until 24-09-2015 and had been given the new men b vaccine along with the others. The nurse at my GP clinic told me she would need a further 2 doses at 2 month intervals. When I rang to book her in for follow up men b injection I was told that she does not need any more but on various sites online it states the doses are given over a 3 course period? Any help as to wether she needs more or the 1 is fine?


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Kathryn at NHS Choices said on 01 October 2015

Dear lolacocoa,

I'm afraid the information you were given at the vaccination clinic was wrong and your baby is not eligible for meningitis B vaccine on the NHS. As you say, it is only for babies born after May 2015.

Kathryn Bingham, editor, NHS Choices

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lolacocoa said on 29 September 2015

My son was born 25/01/15. On his last set of vaccinations I was told to expect a letter in the post in September, confirming the date at which to bring my son for his Men B vaccination, despite the news being this was only being offered to babies born after May. September is almost over and I haven't seen any up-to-date information on the vaccination and whether I should expect a date for the vaccination. Please can someone clarify the latest?

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Ameaton said on 03 September 2015

My little girl was born on 29/4/15 and my local surgery have informed me that the guidelines they have been given state that there is no catch up vaccine it is only to be given to babies born after 1/5/15! Very frustrated given my little girl has missed out by two days!

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scjames said on 05 August 2015

Great news that all new borns will be getting this vital vaccination. Our child was born to early to receive this and we are having to pay privately to get the same protection. Come s to £300 and will pay for child safety however poor show on UK for not making this a vaccination for all.

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the link said on 01 April 2015

I understand that NHS meningitis B vaccines will be started in September 2015 and will be for babies 4 months old at that date. I also understand that babies born in May 2015 or before will not be included in the programme going forward. This means my 16 month grandson will never be included as far as current Government policy is concerned. We are told that he can have a private vaccine immediately.This sounds like another case of privatisation in the NHS

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LS1234 said on 31 March 2015

All the recent media coverage has left me really wanting this vaccination now for my daughter, I have spoken to my local GP who had no clue what so ever and even my local private hospital "doesn't do" vaccinations, so what do I do? Who do I turn to for this?

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Kathryn at NHS Choices said on 31 March 2015

Dear Shal71,
Men B vaccination of babies on the NHS has not begun yet, and is unlikely to before autumn. Talk to your GP about the pros and cons of private vaccination.
Best wishes,
Kathryn Bingham, editor, NHS Choices

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Shal71 said on 30 March 2015

My baby will be 4 months on 16 April. will he be eligible for the meningitis b vaccine on the bhs or should I get him vaccinated privates?

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