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MenB vaccine overview

View original article on NHS Choices

The MenB vaccine is recommended for babies aged 8 weeks, 16 weeks and 1 year as part of the NHS vaccination schedule.

The MenB vaccine will protect your baby against infection by meningococcal group B bacteria, which are responsible for more than 90% of meningococcal infections in young children.

Meningococcal infections can be very serious, causing meningitis and sepsis (blood poisoning), which can lead to severe brain damage, amputations and, in some cases, death.

The MenB vaccine used is called Bexsero. It's given as a single injection into your baby's thigh.

England was the first country in the world to offer a national, routine, publicly funded MenB vaccination programme using the Bexsero vaccine.

When should babies have the MenB vaccine?

The MenB vaccine is offered to babies alongside their other routine vaccinations at:

  • 8 weeks
  • 16 weeks
  • 1 year

How to get the MenB vaccine

Your GP surgery or clinic will send you an appointment for your baby to have their MenB vaccination along with their other routine vaccinations.

Most surgeries and health centres run special immunisation or baby clinics. If you cannot get to the clinic, contact the surgery to make another appointment.

Find out when your baby should have the MenB vaccine.

MenB vaccine safety

Like all vaccines, the MenB vaccine can cause side effects, but studies suggest they are generally mild and do not last long.

Almost 8,000 people, including more than 5,000 babies and toddlers, have had the MenB vaccine during clinical trials to test its safety.

Since the vaccine was licensed, almost 2 million doses have been given, with no safety concerns identified.

Read the patient information leaflet for Bexsero (PDF, 226kb).

Can the MenB vaccine be given at the same time as other vaccines?

The MenB vaccine can be given at the same time as other routine baby vaccinations, such as the 6-in-1 vaccine and pneumococcal vaccine.

Can vaccines overload a baby's immune system?

MenB vaccine and fever

Babies given the MenB vaccine alongside their other routine vaccinations at 8 and 16 weeks are likely to develop a high temperature (fever) within 24 hours of vaccination.

It's important to give your baby liquid paracetamol following vaccination to reduce the risk of fever. Your nurse will give you more information about paracetamol at your vaccination appointment.

Other common side effects include irritability, and redness and tenderness at the injection site. The liquid paracetamol will also help with these symptoms.

Read this NHS leaflet about how to use paracetamol to prevent and treat fever after MenB vaccination.

Meningitis B is a killer

Meningococcal group B bacteria are a serious cause of life-threatening infections worldwide, including meningitis and blood poisoning, and the leading infectious killer of babies and young children in the UK.

There are 12 known groups of meningococcal bacteria, and group B (MenB) is responsible for about 90% of meningococcal infections in the UK.

Meningitis and sepsis caused by meningococcal group B bacteria can affect people of any age but are most common in babies and young children.

Meningococcal infections tend to come in bursts. In the past 20 years, between 500 and 1,700 people every year, mainly babies and young children, have developed MenB disease, with around 1 in 10 dying from the infection.

Many of those who survive have a permanent disability, such as an amputation, brain damage or epilepsy.

Read more about meningitis.

MenB vaccine protection

There are hundreds of different strains of meningococcal group B bacteria around the world, and some tests predict that the Bexsero MenB vaccine protects against almost 90% of the ones circulating in England.

However, it is not yet clear how this will relate to lives saved or cases prevented.

How the MenB vaccine works

The MenB vaccine is made from 3 major proteins found on the surface of most meningococcal bacteria, combined with the outer membrane of 1 MenB strain. Together, they stimulate the immune system to protect against future exposures to meningococcal bacteria.

For more detail on the ingredients of the MenB vaccine, read the patient information leaflet for Bexsero (PDF, 226kb).

Different types of meningitis vaccines

There are 2 other vaccines against common strains of meningococcal disease: 

  • the MenACWY vaccine against meningococcal groups A, C, W and Y – offered on the NHS to 14-year-olds and first-time students
  • the Hib/MenC vaccine against haemophilus influenza type B and meningococcal group C – for babies at 1 year old

Read about the benefits of childhood vaccinations.

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