Meningococcal vaccine

Be protected against meningococcal disease

Key points about the meningococcal vaccine

  • Meningococcal vaccines protect against meningococcal disease.
  • Meningococcal vaccines are also called Menactra®, MenQuadfi®, Bexsero® and Nimenrix®.
  • Find out more about meningococcal vaccines.
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Meningococcal vaccines are used to protect against meningococcal disease.

  • Meningococcal disease can be life-threatening. It can develop and become deadly in just a few hours.
  • People who survive meningococcal disease often have serious long-term effects. These can include amputation of limbs, hearing loss, seizures, brain injury and permanent skin scarring. Read more about meningococcal disease.

Meningococcal disease is caused by a bacteria called Neisseria meningitidis.

  • At least 12 groups of N. meningitidis have been identified. These groups are named by letters. The most common groups in Aotearoa New Zealand are A, B, C, Y and W.
  • There is no single vaccine that offers protection against all groups.
  • There are different meningococcal vaccines registered in Aotearoa New Zealand to cover the different meningococcal groups:
    • Menactra®, MenQuadfi® or Nimenrix® covers groups A, C, W, Y 
    • Bexsero® covers group B.

Meningococcal vaccines protect you against meningococcal disease and help stop it spreading to others.

Menactra® or MenQuadfi®, and Bexsero® vaccines are free for people 13 to 25 years of age during their first year of living in a boarding school hostel, university hall of residence, military barracks or prison, or 3 months before they move in.

Note: Close living situations do not include flatting or other group living situations.

Bexsero is available on the childhood National Immunisation Programme

Bexsero is available for babies at 3 months, 5 months, and 12 months of age. It will protect your pēpi (baby) against meningococcal B.

  • You can have your pēpi immunised earlier – at 2 months, 4 months, and 12 months old. This will mean extra appointments. Discuss this with your healthcare provider during your baby’s 6-week immunisations if you want to have them earlier.
  • If your tamariki received their 3 month, 5 month, or 12 month immunisations before 1 March 2023, they wouldn't have received the Bexsero vaccine. But they can catch up.
  • All tamariki under 5 years old, who haven't had 3 doses, can catch up for free until 31 August 2025. Read more about Bexsero.

Meningococcal vaccines may also be available free for children and adults at high risk of disease due to medical conditions, or people who’ve been in close contact with someone with meningococcal disease. This includes Bexsero and Menactra® or MenQuadfi®.

From 1 July 2024, Nimenrix®  is funded for eligible tamariki under 12 months of age.

Talk to your doctor, nurse, or other healthcare provider to see if this is recommended for you or your tamariki.

If you, or your tamariki, are not eligible for free immunisations, and you'd like to be protected, talk to your healthcare provider about whether extra protection is a good idea and what it might cost.

Having the meningococcal vaccine doesn't give you lifelong protection. When you get the vaccine, it causes your body to produce antibodies to fight against the infection if you come into contact with the illness. But over time the antibody levels decrease. In older children, adolescents and adults, protection is expected to last for up to 5 years after vaccination.

Meningococcal vaccines are given by injection into a muscle, usually your mid-thigh or upper arm. The number of doses needed depends on the brand used and the age of the person. You can receive more than 1 meningococcal vaccine at a time if more than 1 type is needed.

Like all medicines, meningococcal vaccines can cause side effects, although not everyone gets them. Often side effects improve over time.

Side effects What should I do?
  • Pain, swelling, or redness around the injection site (hard and sore to touch)
  • Heavy arm
  • This is quite common after having the vaccination.
  • It usually starts a few hours after the injection and settles within a few days.
  • Place a cold, wet cloth or ice pack where the injection was given. Leave it on for a short time. 
  • Don't rub the injection site.
  • Tell your doctor if it bothers you.
  • Routine use of paracetamol isn't recommended after vaccinations, but may be used if your child is miserable or distressed.
    For children aged under 2 years of age who receive Bexsero, paracetamol is recommended. Read more about paracetamol use with Bexsero.(external link)
  • Read more about what happens after your immunisation.(external link)
  • Fever
  • It's quite common for the first 1 or 2 days after the injection and usually settles within a few days.
  • Dress lightly, with a single layer of clothing. 
  • Keep the room cool, use a fan.
  • Drink plenty of fluids.
  • Tell your doctor if the fever persists.
  • Routine use of paracetamol isn't recommended after vaccinations, but may be used if your child is miserable or distressed. For children aged under 2 years who receive Bexsero, paracetamol is recommended. Read more about paracetamol use with Bexsero(external link) 
  • Read more about what happens after your immunisation(external link)
  • Feeling unwell, tired or weak
  • Loss of appetite
  • Muscle ache
  • Headache
  • These are quite common for the first 1 or 2 days after the injection.
  • It usually settles within a few days.
  • Rest and drink plenty of fluids.
  • Tell your doctor if it is these side effects bother you.
  • Read more about what happens after your immunisation(external link)
  • Signs of an allergic reaction, such as skin rash, itching, blisters, peeling skin, swelling of your face, lips or mouth, or having problems breathing
  • Allergic reactions to meningococcal vaccine are rare.
  • If you get these signs within a few days of the vaccination, tell your doctor immediately or phone Healthline 0800 611 116.

Read more about medicines and side effects and reporting a reaction you think might be a side effect

Funded and unfunded meningococcal vaccines can be given by your nurse, doctor, healthcare provider, and some pharmacies.

Find a provider near you by following this link to the Healthpoint website (external link)and entering your address.

  • If you're eligible for a free vaccination, there won't be a cost for the meningococcal vaccine, but there may be an administration fee.
  • If you're not eligible to get a free vaccination, you will need to pay.
  • Pharmacists who are trained as vaccinators can administer meningococcal vaccines to people 16 years of age and over. A small number of pharmacists who have done extended training can provide any vaccination on the National Immunisation Schedule. Always call your pharmacy ahead of time to find out if they offer this service, the cost and whether you need to make an appointment.

Vaccines on the National Immunisation Schedule(external link) are free. Other vaccines are funded only for people at particular risk of disease. You can choose to pay for vaccines that you are not eligible to receive for free.

The following links have more information on meningococcal vaccine.  

Meningococcal disease(external link) Immunisation Advisory Centre, NZ
Meningitis prevention(external link) Meningitis Foundation Aotearoa, NZ
Bexsero(external link) Immunisation Advisory Centre, NZ
MenQuadfi(external link) Immunisation Advisory Centre, NZ
Nimenrix(external link) Immunisation Advisory Centre, NZ


  1. Meningococcal disease (including meningitis)(external link) Health New Zealand | Te Whatu Ora
  2. Meningococcal disease(external link) Immunisation Handbook, NZ
  3. Meningococcal vaccine(external link) NZ Formulary


5 questions to ask about your medications

5 questions to ask about your medications

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Te reo Māori

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Meningococcal disease

Health Promotion Agency and Te Whatu Ora, NZ, 2022

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Credits: Sandra Ponen, Pharmacist, Healthify He Puna Waiora. Healthify is brought to you by Health Navigator Charitable Trust.

Reviewed by: Angela Lambie, Pharmacist, Auckland

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