London Travel Clinic

Meningitis B

What is it?

Meningitis B is a highly aggressive strain of bacterial meningitis that infects the protective membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord. It can be very serious and needs to be treated as a medical emergency. If the infection is left untreated, it can cause severe brain damage and blood poisoning (septicaemia). In some cases meningitis can be fatal.
A new vaccine Bexsero had been licensed in the UK, for those aged 2 months and over, to offer protection against Meningitis B. Bexsero is thought to provide 73% protection against meningitis B, which should significantly reduce the number of cases of meningitis.

How common is meningitis B?

The charity Meningitis UK estimates that there are 1,870 cases of meningitis B each year in the UK.
Meningococcal infection can occur at any age, but around half of cases are in those under 5 years of age, particularly infants less than 1 year.
The second main age group is between 15-19 years of age (around 1 in 4 teenagers carry the bacteria).
The bacteria, Neisseria meningitidis, normally lives in the back of the throat and nose and around 1 in 10 people carry the bacteria without having the disease. The bacteria is spread through sneezing, coughing and kissing.
The "B" strain of meningococcal meningitis accounts for the majority of cases of meningitis in the UK & Europe, and the majority of deaths. Until now, it has not been possible to develop a vaccine and BEXSERO represents a significant step forward.

What do we know about the vaccine?

Bexsero is the recently developed vaccine against meningococcus group B, which has now been approved by the Joint Committee on Vaccinations and Immunisations and is licensed for use in the UK.
The vaccine is effective against around 88% of the UK circulating strains of meningococcus group B and 78% of the European circulating strains.
The vaccine can be administered to infants aged two months or older either by itself, or in combination with other childhood vaccines.
The vaccine has been tested in clinical trials involving more than 8,000 people.
In infants, it was found to have similar levels of safety and tolerability to other routine childhood vaccines. The most commonly reported side effects were:
  • redness and swelling at the site of the injection
  • irritability
  • fever

Vaccine Schedule

Vaccination requires a course of two to three doses depending on age.
2 – 6 months of age it is a three dose schedule.
From 6 months, it is a 2 dose schedule with a further dose within 1-2 years depending on age.
All doses are given one month apart for adults and children over 11, and a longer gap between doses in younger children. Younger children may also need a booster dose, though the need for this in adults has not yet been established.
Infants Aged 2 months – 5 months
Three doses – First dose given at 2 months of age, 2nd dose not less than 1 month later, 3rd dose not less than 1 month later
Booster- 1 dose between 12 and 23 months of age.
Infants Aged 6 months – 11 months
Two doses – 1st dose, 2nd dose not less than 2 months later.
Booster- 1 dose in the second year of life with an interval of at least 2 months between the primary series and booster dose.
Infants Aged 12 months – 23 months
Two doses – 1st dose, 2nd dose not less than 2 months later.
Booster- 1 dose with an interval of 12 months to 23 months between the primary series and booster dose.
Children Aged 2 – 10 years
Two doses – 1st dose, 2nd dose not less than 2 months later.
Booster- Need for booster doses not yet established.
Adolescents (from 11 years of age) and adults
Two doses -1st dose, 2nd dose not less than 1 months later.
Booster- Need for booster doses not yet established.

Categories: All Diseases


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