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MenB vaccine overview

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.

Meningococcal infections can be very serious, causing meningitis and blood poisoning (sepsis). This can lead to severe brain damage, amputations and, sometimes, death.

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.

Find out when your baby should have the MenB vaccine

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.

Read the patient information leaflet for Bexsero (PDF, 226kb).

The MenB vaccine and other vaccines

The MenB vaccine can be given at the same time as other routine baby vaccinations, such as the 6-in-1 vaccine and pneumococcal vaccine.

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.

Read a leaflet about how to use paracetamol to prevent and treat fever after MenB vaccination on GOV.UK

Meningitis B is a killer

Meningococcal group B bacteria are a serious cause of life-threatening infections worldwide, including meningitis and sepsis.

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.

Many of those who survive have a permanent disability, such as an amputation, brain damage or epilepsy.

Read more about meningitis

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: 

  • the MenACWY vaccine against meningococcal groups A, C, W and Y – offered on the NHS to 14-year-olds and first-time students
  • the Hib/MenC vaccine against haemophilus influenza type B and meningococcal group C – for babies at 1 year old

Page last reviewed: 11 June 2018
Next review due: 11 June 2021