The meningitis vaccine, known as Meningitis ACWY, can effectively protect you from meningococcal disease. This is a type of meningitis that is caused by bacteria. Meningitis vaccine side effects are usually mild, and the vaccine lasts five years for most people. Some countries require travellers to submit a meningitis vaccination certificate before they are allowed to enter. It is therefore a good idea to check if you need the meningitis vaccine before you leave for your trip.
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In the UK, most people are given vaccines against meningitis when they are young.
However, if you are travelling to an area where there is a higher risk of catching bacterial meningitis, this existing protection may not be sufficient, and you may need to receive a booster of the meningitis vaccine.
If you have had no meningitis vaccinations, you will need to receive a full course.
If you are unsure which vaccinations you have received, speak to one of our prescribing nurses, who will be able to advise you.
The meningitis vaccine lasts five years for most people.
You only need to get your meningitis vaccine a day before you travel as you will only require one dose to be fully protected.
Further meningitis vaccine boosters are available if you need to continue your protection. The booster meningitis jab provides protection for an additional five years.
Like all medicines and vaccines, the meningitis injection can cause side effects, but many people do not experience any at all.
If you do experience meningitis vaccine side effects, they are very unlikely to be serious.
Side effects of the meningitis vaccine can include:
pain, redness and swelling at the injection site
reactions at the injection site such as a hard lump
If you experience dizziness or drowsiness after the meningitis vaccine, you should not drive or operate heavy machinery until you feel better.
If your meningitis vaccine side effects do not improve, or they become worse, you should talk to your doctor.
In general, the meningitis vaccine is recommended to people travelling to a destination in a risk area.
It is especially recommended to people who are at higher risk of getting infected with meningitis. This includes:
people who are travelling in risk areas during dry seasons
people who have close contact with an infected person
people who are attending mass gatherings, such as in Mecca
babies, young children, teenagers and elderly people
Moreover, some countries require you to show a meningitis vaccination certificate upon entry in certain situations, and you will therefore also need the vaccine in this case.
However, the meningitis vaccine may cause problems for some people. This includes people who are:
allergic to any of the ingredients of the vaccine
currently unwell with a fever
diagnosed with a weakened immune system
diagnosed with a bleeding disorder
pregnant or breastfeeding
planning to have a baby
If you belong to any of these groups or you are unsure whether you should get the meningitis vaccine, you can book a free telephone consultation with one of our prescribing nurses for a personal assessment.
Children less than one-year-old should not receive the meningitis vaccine.
If you may be at risk of meningitis, it is recommended that you check whether you need the vaccine, as the disease can be fatal. For the cost of the meningitis vaccine, see below.
Anne Marie Major, Independent Nurse Prescriber
June 25, 2019