How effective is this vaccine?
This vaccine is predicted to protect against the majority of Men B disease strains circulating in the UK. However, the full extent of protection will not be known until the vaccine is in regular use.
Does the vaccine have any known side-effects?
In infants and children (less than 2 years of age) the most common adverse reactions observed in clinical trials were tenderness and swelling at the injection site, fever and irritability. Taking paracetamol or similar painkillers at the time of vaccination or shortly afterwards can help reduce the risk of such reactions. Remember painkillers should only be taken as instructed.
Does this vaccine cover all strains?
There are many different Men B strains. This vaccine has been developed to offer protection against the strains that cause most disease in the UK. Once the vaccine is in routine use, cases of Men B disease will be closely monitored so it will be possible to calculate the reduction in cases of Men B disease. Knowing the signs and symptoms and seeking early medical help remain vital in saving lives.
Can the vaccine actually cause meningitis?
No, the vaccine cannot cause meningitis.
Does having had meningitis and surviving mean that you are immune?
Most people who have suffered from bacterial meningitis will have developed some immunity against the type of bacteria that caused their illness. However, as there are different causes of meningitis it is possible, though rare, to contract the disease again.
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Meningococcal disease is a life-threatening infection. It is a term used to describe two major illnesses – meningitis and septicaemia. These can occur on their own or more commonly both together. Most people will make a good recovery but at worst meningococcal disease causes very severe illness that can rapidly result in death.
There are five main groups of meningococcal bacteria that cause disease around the world. In the UK, meningococcal group B (Men B) causes the majority of disease.
The new Men B vaccine
Bexsero is a vaccine that has been developed to give protection against Men B. This vaccine was licensed by the European Commission, in January 2013. The license means that the vaccine is authorised for use and governments can choose to introduce it into their immunisation programmes.
Bexsero is licensed for individuals from 2 months of age and older.
When will the vaccine be available?
The Department of Health has announced that the Men B vaccine will be introduced into the NHS Childhood Immunisation Programme, with the aim to start vaccinating in September 2015.
Who will get the vaccine?
The vaccine will be offered to babies from 2 months of age. A total of three doses will be given at 2, 4 and 12 months of age. Babies who are already 3 and 4 months old when the vaccine is introduced, will also be offered it as part of a one-off catch-up programme.
The vaccine is already available on the NHS for a small number of children who are a risk of infection. These include children with no spleen or those with a disorder of the immune system called complement deficiency.
Is the vaccine safe?
Bexsero was licensed by the European Medical Association in January 2013 and all vaccines are extensively tested for safety and effectiveness before being licensed.
How many children were in the trials?
Approximately 7,500 infants, children, adolescents and adults.