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What is the MenACWY vaccination service?

What is meningitis?

Meningitis is an infection of the protective membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord. It can be caused by viral or bacterial infections. It is a very serious illness that can quickly become life-threatening or eve fatal. It is most common in children under 5 and teenagers aged 15-19. Prompt recognition of the signs can save lives. Headache, nausea, vomiting, a stiff neck, a dislike of bright lights and a rash that does not disappear under a glass are signs of meningitis. Babies may refuse feeds, cry a lot, look pale or mottled and have a stiff body or be limp and unresponsive. Go straight to hospital if you suspect you or your child may have symptoms of meningitis.

Will MenACWY vaccine stop me from getting meningitis?

No vaccine is 100% effective and people who have been vaccinated may still get the disease. Meningitis can be caused by different strains of meningococcal bacteria. MenACWY vaccine helps your body make antibodies that can kill bacteria in groups A, C, W and Y. In clinical trials, between 70% and 100% of subjects produced enough antibodies to kill the bacteria 30 days after their vaccine.

Who can have MenACWY vaccine?

This vaccine is given to teenagers around 14 years of age as there is a peak in cases between the ages of 15 and 19. Vaccination is also recommended for people travelling to sub-Saharan Africa and for visa entry requirements for Saudi Arabia. It may also be recommended for travel to other countries if outbreaks occur. People of any age should be vaccinated, including infants over 6 weeks as well as pregnant and breastfeeding women.

Can the vaccine cause meningitis?

MenACWY vaccine does not contain any live organisms so it cannot cause the disease. It contains different bacterial polysaccharides that are recognised by the immune system which then makes antibodies that kill the bacteria.


1. Public Health England (PHE); Meningococcal: the green book, chapter 22; Published 20 March 2013, Last updated 20 September 2016;