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MenACWY Vaccine

MenACWY Vaccine

Everything you need to know about
The MenACWY Vaccine

“Fresher” students starting university for the first time should get the MenACWY vaccine to avoid meningitis and septicaemia, both of which can be fatal.

Teenagers in Years 9 and 10 are also commonly provided the MenACWY vaccination.

The information on this page pertains to England. Choose from the links below if you live in another part of the country or are attending university there:

Important

If you’re starting college or university, make sure you’ve already completed the following:

  • MenACWY vaccine. Protects against dangerous illnesses such as meningitis. If you didn’t have this vaccine in school or before coming to the UK to study, you can get it from a doctor until your 25th birthday.
  • MMR vaccine (two doses). Due to mumps and measles epidemics at universities. You can get the MMR vaccine from your doctor if you haven’t gotten two doses before.

What is the MenACWY vaccine?

MenACWY is a vaccination that protects against four strains of meningococcal bacteria that cause meningitis and blood poisoning. It is given as a single injection into the upper arm and protects against meningitis and blood poisoning (septicaemia).

Nimenrix is the name of the MenACWY vaccination.

WHO IS ELIGIBLE?

The MenACWY vaccination, along with the 3-in-1 teenage booster, is frequently given to children aged 13 to 15 (school Years 9 or 10) at school.

Young people

Anyone born on or after September 1, 1996, who was eligible for the MenACWY vaccine as a teenager but did not receive it, can still receive it until their 25th birthday.

If they’re still in school, they should speak with the nurse.

If they’ve dropped out of school (including those who have begun apprenticeships or joined the military), they should schedule an appointment with their primary care physician.

University students

Any university student born on or after September 1, 1996, who was eligible but did not receive the MenACWY vaccine as a teenager, can still receive the vaccine up to the age of 25.

Students entering university or college for the first time, including international and mature students, who have not yet received the MenACWY vaccine are entitled to enrol as freshmen (first-year students) until they reach the age of 25.

Before attending university or college, students should see their doctor get the MenACWY vaccine. If that isn’t an option, they should get it as soon as feasible after starting university.

Use the Meningitis Research Foundation’s eligibility checker to see if you are eligible for the MenACWY vaccination.

Why teenagers and students should have the MenACWY vaccine

Meningococcal disease (meningitis and septicaemia), caused by meningococcal bacteria, is a rare but life-threatening condition.

Because many older teenagers and new university students mix closely with a large number of new people, some of whom may inadvertently carry the meningococcal bacteria at the back of their nose and throat, they are at a higher risk of infection.

Even if they have already had the MenC vaccine, everybody who is eligible for the MenACWY vaccine should get it.

The MenACWY vaccine protects against sickness produced by all four meningococcal strains, including the extremely dangerous MenW strain.

MenACWY vaccine effectiveness

The MenACWY vaccine protects against severe infections caused by four different meningococcal strains (A, C, W and Y).

Only the sugar coating found on the surface of the four varieties of meningococcal bacteria is included in the vaccination. It works by inducing the immune system to produce antibodies against sugar coatings without causing sickness.

The dangers of meningococcal disease

Both meningitis and septicaemia can be caused by meningococcal illness (blood poisoning). Sepsis, a life-threatening response to infection, can be triggered by septicaemia and meningitis.

Meningococcal disease is a rare yet life-threatening infection. It necessitates immediate hospitalisation.

Amputations, hearing loss, and brain damage are just a few of the life-altering disorders that can result.

Previously, the MenACWY vaccine was only recommended for people at high risk of meningococcal diseases, such as those who have had their spleen removed or who have a malfunctioning spleen, Hajj pilgrims, and travellers to countries with high rates of meningococcal diseases, such as parts of Africa and Latin America.

 

MenACWY vaccine side effects

The MenACWY vaccine, like all vaccines, can cause adverse effects, but they are usually minor and pass quickly.

Redness, hardness, itching at the injection site, a high temperature (over 38C), headache, nausea, and exhaustion are the most typical adverse effects noticed in teenagers and young people (fatigue). These signs and symptoms should not persist for more than 24 hours.

A small, painless lump may form, but it generally goes away after a few weeks.

Reporting side effects

You can also use the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency’s Yellow Card Scheme to report any side effects you suspect are related to the MenACWY vaccine.

The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency is in charge of it (MHRA). The MHRA examines yellow card reports on a regular basis. It will conduct an inquiry and, if required, take appropriate action if it suspects a possible problem.

Minor responses such as rashes, fever, vomiting, and redness and swelling where the injection was given have been recorded through the Yellow Card Scheme.

Pharmaceutical companies are also required by law to report serious and suspected adverse occurrences to the MHRA.

FAQs

Find answers to the most frequently asked questions regarding the MenACWY vaccine.

What are the dangers of meningococcal disease

Both meningitis and septicaemia can be caused by meningococcal illness (blood poisoning). Sepsis, a life-threatening response to infection, can be triggered by septicaemia and meningitis.

Meningococcal disease is a rare yet life-threatening infection. It necessitates immediate hospitalisation.

Amputations, hearing loss, and brain damage are just a few of the life-altering disorders that can result.

Previously, the MenACWY vaccine was only recommended for people at high risk of meningococcal diseases, such as those who have had their spleen removed or who have a malfunctioning spleen, Hajj pilgrims, and travellers to countries with high rates of meningococcal diseases, such as parts of Africa and Latin America.

On our page on travel vaccines, you may learn more about the MenACWY vaccine.

Who should not have the MenACWY vaccine?

If you are allergic to the vaccination or any of its constituents, you should not have the MenACWY vaccine.

If you have any of the following conditions, you should consult your doctor or nurse before getting the MenACWY vaccine:

  • Bleed easily or have a bleeding disorder such as haemophilia
  • You have a very hot temperature
  • Are you pregnant or nursing a child

How do meningococcal bacteria spread?

There are 13 different types of meningococcal bacteria that cause meningococcal illness.

In the United Kingdom, the disease is nearly invariably caused by one of four meningococcal groups: MenB, MenC, MenW, or MenY. Vaccination can help avoid them.

In the United Kingdom, MenA disease is uncommon, but it is more frequent in other parts of the world. Vaccination can also help to avoid it.

In roughly 1 in 10 persons, the meningococcal bacteria reside in the back of the nose and throat without generating any signs or sickness.

The meningococcal bacterium is more commonly carried and disseminated by older teenagers.

The bacteria are passed from person to person through continuous close contact with someone who is carrying the infection, such as coughing, kissing, or sneezing.

Meningococcal bacteria can occasionally cause serious illnesses, such as meningitis and septicaemia, which can quickly escalate to sepsis.

Meningococcal infections can strike anyone at any age, but babies, toddlers, and teenagers are more vulnerable.

Babies, older people and the MenACWY vaccine

Teenagers are the most likely to contain the meningococcal germs at the back of their noses and throats, hence the MenACWY vaccine is presently recommended.

Teenagers are most vulnerable to meningococcal disease, thus the MenACWY vaccine protects them. It also prevents them from carrying the bacterium and spreading it to others.

Teenagers should be vaccinated to protect others, particularly babies and the elderly, from meningococcal disease, including the extremely dangerous MenW strain.

How do you spot meningococcal disease?

Meningococcal illness (meningitis and septicaemia) symptoms can mimic a terrible case of the flu at first, but they soon worsen. Early treatment can save a person’s life.

Meningococcal illness can also cause the following symptoms:

  • A throbbing headache
  • Vomiting
  • A tense neck
  • Joint and muscle ache
  • A very high temperature
  • Cold fingers and toes
  • Difficulties waking up or drowsiness

A rash that develops into a purple, bruise-like rash that does not diminish under pressure – such as when gently putting a glass against it – may also arise (the “glass test”).

If you or a kid or adult you know is experiencing any of these symptoms, seek medical attention immediately. Do not wait till the rash appears. Antibiotic treatment and early diagnosis are critical.

The meningococcal disease most usually causes meningitis and septicemia, which can lead to sepsis, although it can also cause other disorders in rare cases. Pneumonia and joint infections are among them (septic arthritis).

Learn everything there is to know about meningitis.

What other vaccines are used for meningococcal disease?

Meningitis and septicaemia can be caused by a variety of microorganisms, some of which can be prevented by immunisation.

After their first birthday, all babies are provided with the Hib/MenC vaccine as part of the NHS immunisation programme.

The MenB vaccine (Bexsero) is given to all babies between the ages of 8 and 16 weeks as part of the NHS childhood vaccination programme, with a booster after their first birthday.