New Meningitis Vaccine
Life threatening meningitis can result from infection with the A, B or C types of the highly pathogenic Meningococcus bacterium. Fortunately, a combination vaccination is available for all three in the form of Mencevax® vaccine. Although effective, Mencevax is primarily for travelers as the vaccine does not provide long lasting immunity.
Children have for some years now been routinely vaccinated with a long lasting vaccine for Meningococcal type C (NeisVac C ®, which has now been incorporated into a combined vaccine with a different name), and until now the type C vaccine was the only long lasting Meningococcal vaccine available. A Meningococcal Type B vaccine has now been released, and as described in the latest August 2015 Immunisation Newsletter it grants immunity for a range (said to be 76%) of the different variants of ‘Type B’ Meningococcus. This vaccine is not yet included amongst the ‘free’ vaccines available for children, but is recommended for:
-infants and young children, particularly those aged less than 24 months
–adolescents aged from 15 to 19 years
–children and adults with medical conditions that place them at a high risk of invasive meningococcal disease, such as children without a spleen or who have confirmed immune system problems
Two to three doses depending on the age, as an intramuscular injection are required over a defined period of time. Children under two years of age should have a dose of paracetamol to reduce the risk of fever. Information on use of the vaccine in individuals over 50 is incomplete, and a decision is best made in consultation with your doctor. The name of the vaccine is Bexsero®. Meningococcal Type B is often abbreviated to ‘MenB’