We offer a meningitis B vaccination service at our community pharmacies. Ready to find out more? Here we run through what meningitis is, who is at risk of catching meningitis, and how you can protect yourself against it with a meningitis B vaccination.
Meningitis is a serious disease caused by the inflammation of the membranes that cover and protect your brain and spinal cord. These membranes are called meninges – meningitis means inflammation of the meninges.
In serious cases, meningitis can cause brain damage and can be fatal. Meningitis can also lead to a life-threatening form of blood poisoning called septicaemia.
Meningitis can have a range of causes. It can be brought on by a reaction to medications or triggered by other diseases, including some cancers.
The disease is most often caused by infections of the meninges. These infections can be viral, fungal, parasitic, or bacterial. Meningitis caused by a bacterial infection is most likely to cause serious problems. A meningitis vaccination can protect you against bacterial meningitis.
The bacteria and viruses that cause meningitis infections often live harmlessly in peoples’ throats and noses. Around 10% of the population have a type of bacteria that can causes meningitis, called meningococcal bacteria, living in the back of their throats.
These bacteria and viruses are spread by coughing, sneezing, kissing or things like sharing utensils. Most people who catch them won’t get meningitis, but if the bacteria or virus get into the bloodstream and reach the meninges they can cause meningitis.
Meningitis can cause different symptoms in different people, but the most common symptoms of meningitis include:
Symptoms of septicaemia, that can be caused by meningitis, include:
While anyone can catch meningitis, bacterial meningitis is most common in babies, children and young adults.
The vaccination protects you against bacterial infections caused by the B group of meningococcal bacteria – the leading cause of meningitis in the UK.
The meningitis B vaccine contains parts of B group meningococcal bacteria, but not the whole bacteria. And the parts it does contain are inactive. This means the vaccine can’t give you an infection, but it does stimulate your immune system to develop the antibodies to kill the bacteria. This gives you immunity against the B group of meningococcal bacteria.
Our meningitis B vaccination service is suitable for people between two to 50 years of age.
You or your child can have the vaccine as long as you or they:
Patients aged 2-10 will receive two doses of the vaccine:
Patients aged 11-50 will receive two doses of the vaccine:
The meningitis B vaccine is a safe and effective way to immunise yourself or your child against the B group of meningococcal bacteria that can cause meningitis.
Vaccinations are put through rigorous clinical trials before they’re approved for use and scientists continually monitor the safety of vaccines. Nearly 8,000 people, including 5,000 babies and toddlers, were given the vaccine during clinical trials. Altogether around two million vaccines have been given through the NHS, with no safety concerns raised.
As with any medication, vaccines can cause side effects in some people. With the meningitis B vaccine, these side effects tend to be mild and short-lasting. These include pain where the vaccination was injected, headaches, and fever in babies and children.
You must be at least 16 years old to use our website to book any of our services.
If you are a parent or guardian booking on behalf of someone who is less than 16 years old, you must attend their appointment with them, or our pharmacist reserves the right to not provide the vaccination.
In September 2015, the NHS added the meningitis B vaccine to their childhood vaccination programme. Children born after September 2015 will receive a vaccination at eight weeks, 16 weeks, and when they turn one year old. These early vaccinations protect babies when they are at greatest risk of infection.
However, some people may wish to protect themselves or their children but fall outside of this age range. In this case, we offer our private meningitis B vaccination service. This does not replace the free NHS Meningitis ACWY vaccination that young people are entitled to.