Meningococcal vaccines

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 the 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 type of meningococcal infection, the A, C, W and Y types.

Vaccine recommendations

The meningococcal ACWY vaccine (Nimenrix ®)  provided under the National Immunisation Program and is administered at 12 months of age.

The meningococcal ACWY (Menveo®) vaccine is provided until December 2018 for Aboriginal children and adolescents aged 12 months to 19 years of age living in the Eyre and Far North and Flinders and Upper North regions of South Australia. See the Aboriginal Meningococcal W Immunisation Program Frequently asked questions for more information. 

Meningococcal vaccines may also be recommended but not funded to other groups .You will need to speak to your doctor for more information.

From 1 October 2018 the State Government will provide free meningococcal B vaccines to children and young people as they are at increased risk of developing meningococcal B infection. See the Meningococcal B Immunisation Program 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 top of the arm if over 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 where you were immunised
  • low grade fever of 37 to 38 degrees Celcius (fever may be higher following the meningococcal B vaccine)
  • feeling unsettled or irritable
  • a lower appetite than normal
  • headaches
  • drowsiness
  • nausea
  • rash.

Paracetamol is recommended before the administration of meningococcal B vaccine in children less than two years of age

Very rarely, a severe allergic reaction to the vaccine

If you are concerned or worried, seek further advice from your doctor, immunisation provider, SA Health's Immunisation section or healthdirect Australia.

Any unexpected event following immunisation should be reported to SA Health.

Reducing the side effects

Many of the common side effects can be reduced by:

  • drinking extra fluids
  • taking paracetamol as per the instructions on the packet/bottle
  • not overdressing if you are already hot.

Where to get immunised

To receive the vaccine contact your doctor, local council, community health centre or Aboriginal health centre to arrange an appointment. 

For further information on immunisation providers, see the Immunisation services page.

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