Vaccination programme in secondary schools for deadly new strain of meningitis


Schools are being encouraged to vaccinate their students against meningitis and septicaemia through the launch of a new campaign.

Adolescents born between 1st September 1996 and 31st August 2002 and under 25 year olds going to university for the first time are being offered a MenACWY vaccine that protects against a deadly new strain of meningococcal W (MenW).

Meningococcal bacteria have always been the leading cause of life-threatening meningitis and septicaemia in the UK. Six different kinds, serogroups A, B, C, W, X, and Y, cause the most disease worldwide. For decades meningococcal B has caused most cases of the disease in the UK. Meningococcal C was also common until the MenC vaccine was introduced, reducing cases to just a handful each year.

But cases of MenW have risen year on year in England and Wales since 2009.

Public Health England figures show that in England and Wales alone, 184 cases were reported from July 2014 to June 2015 compared to just 98 cases for the same time period over the previous year. The ST-11 strain responsible for the rise is associated with more severe illness which often requires treatment in intensive care and has a higher death rate than other strains of meningococcal disease, 13% compared to 5-10% for other strains.

Students born on or after 1st September 1999 will receive their vaccination via school nursing systems or other local arrangement by late summer 2017.

Older children may be called in for vaccination by their GP.

UK based international charity Meningitis Research Foundation (MRF) Chief Executive Vinny Smith said: "We encourage all teenagers at secondary school and those going to University for the first time to make sure they are protected against this deadly strain of meningitis and septicaemia. We have been working with secondary schools and universities to ensure they know how vital it is to get this vaccination.

"Adolescents are more likely to carry meningococcal bacteria than any other age group and offering MenACWY vaccine to this age group will stop the bacteria from being passed on to the wider population. This means that even unvaccinated people will be protected from catching the disease – an effect known as herd protection."

You can find out more about this vaccination programme at: