Information For Patients

Meningococcal B

Meningococcal B vaccine is available at Athboy Family Practice

Please contact our Practice Nurse to discuss.


What is meningococcal disease?

Meningococcal disease is a serious illness caused by the bacteria Neisseria meningitidis. This bacterial infection can cause meningitis (inflammation of the lining around the brain) and septicaemia (blood poisoning).

There are different groups of the Neisseria meningitidis bacteria that cause meningococcal disease. Before the introduction of the meningitis C (MenC) vaccine in 2000, groups B and C caused most cases of meningococcal disease in Ireland. Thanks to the MenC vaccine against group C bacteria, the number of cases of meningococcal disease due to group C bacteria has fallen dramatically. Most cases are now caused by group B bacteria.


How do people get meningococcal disease?

Meningococcal bacteria can live at the back of the throat or in the nose. Most people, who carry these bacteria (carriers), remain well but they can spread the bacteria to others through coughing, sneezing, or kissing. Close personal contact with a carrier sometimes leads to infection. You need many hours of close personal contact to become infected as the bacteria do not survive long outside the body.

Meningococcal disease may occur at any age but the highest rate of meningococcal disease occurs in children under 5 years of age, especially children under one year of age. The next highest risk group are young people aged 15-19 years. In Ireland the risk of infection is highest in winter and early spring.


What are the symptoms of meningococcal disease?

The onset of meningococcal disease can be very quick. The symptoms of meningococcal disease include fever, stiff neck, headache, joint pains, and a rash. If you think your child or baby has signs of meningococcal disease get medical help immediately from your G.P. or nearest paediatric Emergency Department. In some cases acting quickly to get medical help can mean the difference between life and death.

Meningococcal disease is a very serious life threatening illness.

Of the people who get meningococcal disease:

  • 1 in 20 will die
  • 1 in 10 people who recover will have a major disability such as deafness, brain damage or loss of fingers, toes, hands, feet, arms or legs.

Early diagnosis leads to early treatment with antibiotics and a greater chance that the person will make a full recovery. Early diagnosis is the key so if you suspect that someone may have meningitis or septicaemia seek medical attention immediately.

More information is available at http://www.meningitis.org/ireland


Who should get meningococcal B (MenB) vaccine?

Meningococcal B disease is prevented by vaccination.

All children born on or after 1 October 2016 will now be given MenB vaccine at 2 and 4 months of age with a booster dose of MenB vaccine given at 12 months.


Does the meningococcal B (MenB) vaccine protect against all meningococcal disease?

Only meningococcal B infection is prevented by the MenB vaccine. Other types of meningococcal infection are not covered by this vaccine.

Meningococcal C vaccine for protection against meningitis C infection has been given to children in Ireland since 2000. Since the vaccine was introduced in late 2000, the number of cases of meningococcal disease, due to group meningococcal group C bacteria, has declined dramatically. The number of reported cases has fallen from 139 in 2000 to just 6 in 2014, a reduction of 96%

It is very important to remain alert for symptoms of meningococcal disease as not all types are covered by the vaccines. Urgent medical attention should be sought if symptoms occur.


Who should not get meningococcal B (MenB) vaccine?

There are very few people who should not get MenB vaccine. Your child should not get the vaccine if they have had a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) to a previous dose of vaccine or any part of the vaccine including tetanus vaccine.

How does meningococcal B (MenB) vaccine work?

MenB vaccine contains extracts from the meningococcal B bacteria. The vaccine works by making the body’s immune system respond to the bacteria, without causing disease.

How effective is the MenB vaccine?

MenB vaccine has been shown to very effective and safe, providing 88% protection against MenB bacteria types.

Source: www.hse.ie