30 April 2013
The UK based Meningitis Research Foundation welcomes today’s news regarding improvements to the MenC vaccination schedule that will maintain protection against meningococcal C meningitis and septicaemia with a new teenage booster.
Meningitis and septicaemia are the illnesses most feared by parents, killing more children under 5 than any other infectious disease in the UK. The MenC vaccine has prevented more than 13,000 cases and saved over 1,300 lives since it was introduced in the UK 1999. Nowadays there are just a handful of cases of MenC in the UK each year.
However, research now shows that the direct protection the vaccine provides against MenC declines by the teenage years. A booster dose in early adolescence will extend protection later into life.
Teenagers are the second most at-risk age group for MenC and are more likely to carry the germ than younger children or older adults. As the vaccine prevents carriage of MenC, vaccinating teenagers will not only protect this vulnerable age group, but will also stop the germ from spreading and protect the wider population Research has also shown that one dose of MenC vaccine in the first year of life provides the same protection as two doses, so the dose currently given at four months will be dropped starting this summer.
“MenC vaccination has been hugely successful and saved many lives. We are proud to have played our part by promoting the vaccine and funding research to understand immunity to MenC," said Chris Head, Chief Executive of Meningitis Research Foundation.
"The Government is responding to important research evidence by adjusting the immunisation schedule, which will extend protection against MenC so that more lives will be saved. The recent measles outbreak shows how important vaccine protection is, so we urge every parent to make sure they understand the changes and ensure their children are up to date with their immunisations.”
The Meningitis Research Foundation has a dedicated MenC page online at: www.meningitis.org/menc-booster. There is also a free telephone helpline: 080 8800 3344.
Currently children in the UK get three doses of MenC vaccine at 3, 4 and 12-13 months of age but from 1 June 2013, they will have two doses at 3 and 12-13 months. Starting next academic year, a booster dose of MenC vaccine will be offered to school children at 12-14 years of age.