MenACWY vaccination for teenagers and students

Meningococcal disease is caused by meningococcal bacteria. There is a vaccination programme to protect older teenagers and young adults against meningococcal infection.

Meningococcal bacteria

Meningococcal bacteria can cause meningitis and blood poisoning (septicaemia). There are 12 known capsular groups. In  Northern Ireland, meningococcal groups A,B, C, W and Y are the most common.  

Meningococcal bacteria can cause:

  • meningitis (inflammation of the lining in the brain)
  • septicaemia (blood poisoning) often leading to a rash of dark spots

Meningitis can cause death or long-term health problems including:

  • amputation
  • deafness
  • epilepsy
  • learning difficulties

To read meningitis signs and symptoms, go to:

You got meningitis vaccination as a child

You might have had a meningococcal group C vaccination as a child, however, due to an increase in type W across the UK you are now recommended to have the MenACWY vaccine.

This will boost your protection against Men C and also protect you against the types A, W and Y. It won’t protect you against all the types of meningococcal disease which is why it is also important to know the signs and symptoms.

MenACWY vaccination 

The MenACWY vaccine helps protect you against four different causes of meningitis and septicaemia; meningococcal groups A, C, W and Y disease.

You only need one dose of the vaccine. You get the vaccine as a single injection in the upper arm.

In 2015 the MenACWY vaccine replaced the Men C vaccination given annually in school to all pupils in year 11.  Pupils in year 11 are now automatically offered the vaccine in school by the school health team, with a second chance to have it again in year 12, if they missed out the first time.

Young people eligible for the MenACWY vaccine

Young people born between 2 July 1996 and 1 July 2002 should have already been offered the vaccine by their GP or in school. If for any reason they missed out they are still eligible for the vaccine from their GP. If you aren't planning to go to university, it is still important to get the vaccine. You only need to get the MenACWY vaccine once.

If you haven't yet received the vaccine, you can ask your GP.

Young people starting university aged 25 or under

Various sub groups of meningococcal disease can spread quickly in areas where people live closely to each other:

  • in university halls of residence
  • in shared accommodation

If you’re aged 25 or under, about to start university for the first time and haven’t yet had the MenACWY vaccination, you should ask your GP for the vaccine.  Even if you have previously received the Men C vaccine you should still now ask for the MenACWY vaccine.

Ideally, you should get the vaccine at least two weeks before you start university.

If you don’t get the vaccine before going to university

Contact a GP in the university health centre and arrange to get the vaccine.

Information about MenACWY vaccination

You can ask your GP, practice nurse or university health centre for more information about the vaccine.

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