Meningococcal vaccines help protect against the meningococcal disease. Meningococcal can cause inflammation of the lining of the brain (meningitis) and/or septicaemia (a form of blood infection). There are 13 different types of meningococcal, and the different vaccines available provide protection against different types of meningococcal bacteria. The following vaccines protect you against the different strains of meningococcal:
Meningococcal C vaccine - only protects against one type of meningococcal infection, the C type
Meningococcal B vaccine - only protects against one type of meningococcal infection, the B type
Meningococcal ACWY vaccine - protects against four types of meningococcal infection, the A, C, W and Y types.
Meningococcal B vaccine
On 1 October 2018, the State Government commenced providing funded (free) meningococcal B vaccines to eligible children, adolescents and young adults in South Australia, as they are at increased risk of developing meningococcal B infection. See the Meningococcal B Immunisation Program for more information.
From 1 July 2020, the Commonwealth Government included the meningococcal B vaccine (Bexsero®) on to the National Immunisation Program for:
Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander children less than two years of age; this will be given at the same ages as the current state funded South Australian program. See Aboriginal immunisation recommendations for further information.
People of any age with specific medical conditions as they are at increased risk of invasive meningococcal B disease. If aged less than 12 months of age, an extra dose of meningococcal B vaccine (Bexsero®) is recommended and funded at 6 months of age for children in this category. Speak to your immunisation provider for further details. See Medical at risk immunisation requirements for further information.
Meningococcal ACWY vaccine
The meningococcal ACWY vaccine (Nimenrix®) is provided under the National Immunisation Program and is administered at 12 months of age for healthy children with no increased risk factors. The meningococcal ACWY vaccine is also offered through the School Immunisation Program in Year 10. Adolescents aged 15 to 19 years of age, who have not already received the vaccine in school, will be able to receive the vaccine through a GP based catch-up program.
From 1 July 2020, the Commonwealth Government included meningococcal ACWY vaccine on to the National Immunisation Program for people of all ages with some medical conditions as they are at increased risk of developing meningococcal ACWY infection. See Medical at risk immunisation requirements for further information.
Meningococcal vaccines may also be recommended, but not funded, for other groups. You will need to speak to your doctor for more information.
How the vaccine is given
The meningococcal vaccines are given as an injection into the thigh if under 12 months of age, or the muscle of the upper arm from 12 months of age.
Possible side effects
Like any medications, the meningococcal vaccines can have some minor and short lasting side effects.
Common effects may include:
pain, redness and swelling at the injection site
mild fever of 37-38 degrees Celsius
fever up to 39 degrees Celsius or above in young children following the meningococcal B vaccine, Bexsero®
feeling unsettled or irritable
Very rarely, a severe allergic reaction to the vaccine.
Paracetamol is recommended before and following administration of the meningococcal B vaccine Bexsero® in children less than two years of age.
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