Meningococcal Vaccines

Meningococcal vaccines help protect against the meningococcal disease. Meningococcal can cause inflammation of the lining of the brain (meningitis) and/or septicaemia (a form of blood infection). There are 13 different types of meningococcal, and the different vaccines available provide protection against different types of meningococcal bacteria. The following vaccines protect you against the different strains of meningococcal:

  • Meningococcal C vaccine - only protects against one type of meningococcal infection, the C type
  • Meningococcal B vaccine - only protects against one type of meningococcal infection, the B type
  • Meningococcal ACWY vaccine - protects against four types of meningococcal infection, the A, C, W and Y types.

Vaccine Recommendations

The meningococcal ACWY vaccine (Nimenrix ®) is provided under the National Immunisation Program and is administered at 12 months of age. The meningococcal ACWY vaccine is also offered through the Schools Immunisation Program in Year 10. Adolescents aged 15 to 19 years of age, who have not already received the vaccine in school, will be able to receive the vaccine through a GP based catch-up program.

Meningococcal vaccines may also be recommended, but not funded, for other groups .You will need to speak to your doctor for more information.

On 1 October 2018, the State Government commenced providing free meningococcal B vaccines to eligible children and young people, as they are at increased risk of developing meningococcal B infection. See the Meningococcal B Immunisation Program for more information.

How the Vaccine is Given

The meningococcal vaccines are given as an injection into the thigh if under 12 months of age, or the top of the arm from 12 months of age.

Possible Side Effects

Like any medications, the meningococcal vaccines can have some minor and short lasting side effects.

Common effects may include:

  • pain, redness and swelling at the injection site
  • mild fever of 37-38 degrees Celsius
  • fever up to 39 degrees Celsius or above in young children following the meningococcal B vaccine, Bexsero®
  • feeling unsettled or irritable
  • reduced appetite
  • headaches
  • drowsiness
  • nausea.

Very rarely, a severe allergic reaction to the vaccine.

Paracetamol is recommended before and following the administration of the meningococcal B vaccine Bexsero in children less than two years of age.

If you are concerned, seek further advice from your doctor, immunisation provider, SA Health's Immunisation section or healthdirect Australia.

Any unexpected event following immunisation should be reported to SA Health.

Reducing the side effects

Many of the common side effects can be reduced by:

  • drinking extra fluids
  • taking paracetamol
  • not overdressing if you are already hot.

Where to get Immunised

To receive the vaccine contact your doctor, local council, community health centre or Aboriginal health centre to arrange an appointment.

For further information on immunisation providers, see the Immunisation services page.