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Vaccinations

Men B vaccine

A new vaccine to prevent meningitis will be offered to babies as part of the routine NHS childhood vaccination programme from September 1 2015. 

The Men B vaccine will be offered to babies aged 2 months, followed by a second dose at 4 months, and a booster at 12 months.

There will also be a temporary catch-up programme for babies who are due their 3- and 4-month vaccinations in September 2015, to protect them when they are most at risk from infection.

The Men B vaccine will protect your baby against infection by meningococcal group B bacteria, which can cause meningitis and septicaemia (blood poisoning), which are serious and potentially fatal illnesses.

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 will be 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.

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.

Giving your baby liquid paracetamol will reduce the risk of fever after vaccination. 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 more about possible Men B vaccine side effects.

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 will protect 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.

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.

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 N|HS 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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Comments

The 4 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

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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The Men ACWY vaccine

Vaccination against meningitis W will be routinely offered on the NHS to all teenagers and new students from August 2015

Men C vaccine

Find out why the Men C vaccination is important in preventing the C strain of meningitis

Meningitis

Meningitis is a bacterial or viral infection of the brain's protective membranes which often affects babies and children

When to vaccinate your child

Which vaccines your child needs and at what age they should have them

Pregnancy and baby

All you need to know about pregnancy, birth and looking after a baby, including feeding and trying to get pregnant