The MenB vaccine will protect your baby against infection by meningococcal group B bacteria.
These bacteria are responsible for about 9 in every 10 meningococcal infections in young children.
England was the first country in the world to offer a national, routine, publicly funded MenB vaccination programme using the Bexsero vaccine.
Who can have the MenB vaccine and when
The MenB vaccine is offered as part of the NHS vaccination schedule.
It's given to babies at:
- 8 weeks
- 16 weeks
- 1 year
How to get the MenB vaccine
Your GP surgery or clinic will send you an appointment for your baby to have their MenB vaccination along with their other routine vaccinations.
Most surgeries and health centres run special immunisation or baby clinics.
If you cannot get to the clinic, contact the surgery to make another appointment.
How the MenB vaccine is given
In England, Bexsero is the MenB vaccine that’s used. It's given as a single injection into your baby's thigh.
MenB vaccine safety
Like all vaccines, the MenB vaccine can cause side effects, but studies suggest they're generally mild and do not last long.
Almost 8,000 people, including more than 5,000 babies and toddlers, have had the MenB vaccine during clinical trials to test its safety.
Since the vaccine was licensed, almost 2 million doses have been given, with no safety concerns identified.
The MenB vaccine and other vaccines
Side effects of the MenB vaccine
Babies given the MenB vaccine alongside their other routine vaccinations at 8 and 16 weeks are likely to develop a high temperature within 24 hours of vaccination.
It's important to give your baby liquid paracetamol following vaccination to reduce this risk. Your nurse will give you more information about paracetamol at your vaccination appointment.
Other common side effects of the MenB vaccine include:
- pain, swelling or redness where the injection was given
- diarrhoea or being sick
- crying and irritability
The liquid paracetamol will also help with these symptoms.
An allergic reaction is a rare side effect of the MenB vaccine. This may be a rash or itching that affects part or all of the body.
Very rarely, a baby may have a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) after having the MenB vaccine.
Meningitis B is a killer
They're also the leading infectious killer of babies and young children in the UK.
There are 12 known groups of meningococcal bacteria, and group B (MenB) is responsible for about 9 in every 10 meningococcal infections in the UK.
Meningitis and sepsis caused by meningococcal group B bacteria can affect people of any age but are 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 developed MenB disease, with around 1 in 10 dying from the infection.
MenB vaccine protection
There are hundreds of different strains of meningococcal group B bacteria around the world.
Some tests predict that the MenB vaccine protects against almost 9 in every 10 types of meningococcal group B bacteria circulating in England.
However, it’s not yet clear how this will relate to lives saved or cases prevented.
How the MenB vaccine works
The MenB vaccine is made from 3 major proteins found on the surface of most meningococcal bacteria, combined with the outer membrane of 1 MenB strain.
Together, they stimulate the immune system to protect against future exposures to meningococcal bacteria.
For more detail on the ingredients of the MenB vaccine, read the patient information leaflet for Bexsero (PDF, 226kb).
Different types of meningitis vaccines
There are 2 other vaccines against common strains of meningococcal disease:
Page last reviewed: 11 June 2018
Next review due: 11 June 2021