Vaccinations

Men B vaccine

The Men B vaccine is recommended for babies aged 8 weeks, 16 weeks and one year as part of the NHS routine childhood vaccination programme.

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.

The Men B vaccine used is called Bexsero. 

England was the first country in the world to offer a national, routine and publicly funded Men B vaccination programme using the Bexsero vaccine.

When should babies should have the Men B vaccine?

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

  • 8 weeks
  • 16 weeks
  • One year 

How is the Men B vaccine given?

The vaccine is given as a single injection into the baby's thigh.

How to get the Men B vaccine

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.

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 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.

Read the patient information leaflet for Bexsero.

Can the Men B vaccine be given at the same time as other vaccines?

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?

Men B vaccine and fever

Babies given the Men B vaccine alongside their other routine vaccinations at 8 and 16 weeks 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.

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

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 Bexsero 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 other vaccines against common strains of meningococcal disease  the Men ACWY vaccine (against meningococcal groups A, C, W and Y) which is offered on the NHS to 14-year-olds and first-time students and the Hib/Men C vaccine (against Haemophilus influenza type B and meningococcal group C) for babies at one year old.

Read about the benefits of childhood vaccinations.

Page last reviewed: 26/06/2015

Next review due: 26/06/2017

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