Men C vaccine
The Men C vaccine protects against infection by meningococcal group C bacteria, which can cause two very serious illnesses, meningitis and septicaemia.
The Men C vaccine does not protect against meningitis caused by meningococcal group B bacteria, so it's important for parents to be aware of the symptoms of meningitis.
Who is affected by meningococcal disease?
Meningococcal disease can affect all age groups, but the rates of disease are highest in children under five years of age, with the peak in babies under one year of age. There's a second peak in cases in young people aged between 15 and 19. The disease tends to strike in winter.
Which children should have the Men C vaccine?
Children are routinely offered the Men C vaccine as part of childhood vaccination programme at:
13-15 years (teenage booster)
Babies have their first Men C vaccination when they are three months old.
Babies then have a second dose of Men C at 12 months. This dose is combined with the Hib (Haemophilus influenzae type b) vaccine and is called the Hib/Men C booster.
Two doses of Men C vaccine are given to make sure your baby develops a good enough immune response to protect them against meningitis C in early childhood.
The Men C vaccine is also routinely available as a teenage booster to children aged 13-15 years. This Men C teenage booster can be given at the same time as the 3-in-1 teenage booster (against tetanus, diphtheria and polio) and will extend your child's protection against meningitis caused by infection with meningococcal group C bacteria into early adulthood. Read this leaflet about immunisations at secondary school.
Men C for university students
From late summer 2014, students under the age of 25 who are starting university will also be offered a catch-up booster of Men C vaccine. This student catch-up programme will continue for several years until all university entrants have received a Men C teenage booster.
Catch-up boosters of Men C for non-vaccinated children and adults
Anyone under the age of 25 who hasn't yet received Men C vaccination can have a single catch-up dose. If you want a catch-up dose of Men C vaccine, arrange this with your GP.
About the Men C vaccine
The Men C vaccine is made using part of the surface of the bacteria, but you cannot get meningitis from the vaccine.
In the UK, your baby at 3 months of age will receive their first Men C vaccine called one of two brand names- either Neisvac C or Menjugate.
Read the patient information leaflet (PIL) and summary of product characteristics (SPC) for Menjugate.
The Hib/Men C booster given at 12 months has the brand name Menitorix. Read the patient information leaflet (PIL) and summary of product characteristics (SPC) for Menitorix.
While the teenage Men C booster and student catch-up booster can be one of three brands - Neisvac C, Meningitec or, less commonly, Menjugate.
How safe is the Men C vaccine?
The Men C vaccine has an excellent safety record. The most common reactions tend to be minor and very temporary. They include swelling, redness and pain around the injection site, fever, and vomiting.
How effective is the Men C vaccine?
The Men C vaccine works very well and has slashed the levels of Men C disease. In fact, since the Men C vaccine was introduced in 1999, there has been a 95% decrease in cases of disease caused by meningitis C.