Meningococcal vaccine

Be protected against meningococcal disease

Key points about meningococcal vaccine

  • The meningococcal vaccine protects against meningococcal disease.
  • Meningococcal vaccine is also called Menactra®, MenQuadfi®, Bexsero® and NeisVac-C®.
  • Find out about it and possible side effects.
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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 vaccines protects you against meningococcal disease and helps stop it spreading to others

There are different meningococcal vaccines registered in Aotearoa New Zealand to cover the different meningococcal groups.
  • Menactra® or MenQuadfi® covers groups A, C, W, Y 
  • Bexsero® covers group B
  • NeisVac-C® covers group C

Meningococcal vaccines are used to protect against 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.

The meningococcal vaccine protects you against the bacteria that causes meningococcal disease and reduces the number of people carrying N. meningitidis bacteria. This helps reduce the spread to your whānau and your community. 

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

  • Bexsero is also funded for people 13 to 25 years of age who are currently living in boarding school hostels, tertiary education halls of residence, military barracks or prisons, from 1 March 2023 until 28 February 2024 as a catch up.
  • You will need: 
    • 1 dose of the Menactra® or MenQuadfi® vaccine and,
    • 2 doses of the Bexsero vaccine. The second dose can be given eight weeks after first dose.

Bexsero is available on the childhood National Immunisation Programme

Bexsero is available for babies at 3 months, 5 months, and 12 months old. 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 doctor, nurse, or healthcare provider during your baby’s 6-week immunisations if you want to have them earlier. 

 

Tamariki under 5 years old

All tamariki under 5 years old, who have not had 3 doses, can catch up for free until 31 August 2025.

Read more about Bexsero. 

Meningococcal vaccines may also be available and 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
  • Menactra® or MenQuadfi®
  • NeisVac-C® (given to young babies).

Talk to your doctor, nurse, or 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 doctor, nurse, or 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 is not 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)
  • Fever
  • It is 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 is not 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: Paracetamol use with Bexsero(external link) 
  • Read more: 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 troublesome.
  • Read more: 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.
Did you know that you can report a side effect to a medicine to CARM (Centre for Adverse Reactions Monitoring)? Report a side effect to a product.(external link)

The best place to go for vaccinations is your family medical clinic. They have your medical records and can check to see if you’ve already had a particular vaccination. Some pharmacies(external link) also offer these vaccines. 

If you don’t have a family doctor (GP), you can go to one of the after-hour medical clinics. Phone them first to make sure they can help you with the vaccination you need. 

You can find a clinic or pharmacy near you on the Healthpoint(external link) website. Put in your address and region, and under Select a service, click on GPs/Accident & Urgent Medical Care.

If you're not eligible for free vaccines, talk to your healthcare provider; you can choose to pay for some vaccines.

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
Menactra(external link) Immunisation Advisory Centre, NZ
NeisVac-C(external link) Immunisation Advisory Centre, NZ
Nimenrix(external link) Immunisation Advisory Centre, NZ

Brochures

5 questions to ask about your medications

5 questions to ask about your medications

Health Quality and Safety Commission, NZ, 2019

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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 is brought to you by Health Navigator Charitable Trust.

Reviewed by: Angela Lambie, Pharmacist, Auckland

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