Vaccinations

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 Men ACWY vaccine

The Men ACWY vaccine is recommended on the NHS for young teenagers, sixth formers and new university students

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