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Meningococcal Immunisation

The following information is sourced from NCIRS

What is meningococcal disease?

Meningococcal disease is a rare but severe bacterial infection that can cause lifelong disability or death and can affect people at any age.

Meningococcal bacteria (Neisseria meningitidis) are carried in the nose and throat of some healthy people and are spread through close prolonged contact. The bacteria are more commonly found in teenagers and young adults.

Meningococcal disease is a rare but serious infection caused by the bacterium Neisseria meningitidis (N. meningitidis). There are 13 serogroups. Meningococcal disease is most commonly caused by serogroups A, B, C, W and Y.

Septicaemia and/or meningitis are the most common clinical manifestations of invasive meningococcal disease (IMD). The highest incidence of meningococcal disease is in children aged <2 years and adolescents aged 15–19 years. Carriage rates of the bacteria are highest in older adolescents and young adults.

The incidence of meningococcal disease fluctuates naturally over time. Meningococcal B disease had been dominant until a rise in the incidence of Meningococcal W disease from 2013 resulted in the W serogroup being most common in 2016. In 2017, serogroups B and W caused similar numbers of meningococcal disease cases in Australia (37.5% and 38.1%, respectively, of cases with an identified serogroup). Following the introduction of several state- and territory- funded MenACWY vaccination programs targeting the W and Y serogroups, serogroup B disease became dominant again in 2018.

Meningococcal B disease remains the most common cause of IMD in children, adolescents and young adults.

Meningococcal Vaccines

Three types of meningococcal vaccines are available in Australia:

  1. Meningococcal C conjugate vaccines (MenCCV), available as a single vaccine, NeisVac-C®, or in a combination formulation with the Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) vaccine (Hib–MenCCV): Menitorix®
  2. Multicomponent meningococcal B vaccines (MenBV): Bexsero® , Trumenba® 
  3. Quadrivalent (A, C, W, Y) meningococcal conjugate vaccines (4vMenCV): Menactra®, Menveo®, Nimenrix®.

Currently the National Immunisation Program (NIP) Schedule includes routine Meningococcal ACWY vaccination for children aged 12 months. On 1st July 2020 changes to NIP to improve protection against meningococcal disease were implemented: 

  • The Meningococcal B vaccine was added to the NIP for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander infants at two, four and twelve months of age, with an additional dose at six months for those with specific medical conditions.
  • There is also a catch up program for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged under two years until 30th June 2023.

As well as government funded NIP vaccines, Glebe Hill Family Practice also stocks private Meningococcal B vaccine (Bexsero), and Meningococcal ACWY vaccines. The cost for the vaccine differs depending on the vaccine required (or available), and that information is available by speaking with one of our team members.

Who should be vaccinated?

  • People in age groups with increased incidence of IMD or high carriage rates of N. meningitidis:

    • Infants and young children aged <2 years: All infants and children aged <2 years are recommended to receive MenACWY vaccine. A routine single dose of MenACWY vaccine at 12 months of age is recommended and funded under the National Immunisation Program (NIP). MenACWY vaccine is available for infants <12 months of age privately from 6 weeks of age, and requires more doses. MenB vaccine (Bexsero® only for this age group) is also recommended for children aged <2 years, but is only funded for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander infants.
    • Adolescents and some young adults: All adolescents aged 15–19 years are recommended to receive MenB and MenACWY vaccines. Some young adults aged 20–24 years who live in close quarters (such as new military recruits and students living in residential accommodation) or who are current smokers are also recommended to receive vaccination. In some Australian states, vaccines are funded for certain age groups in response to locally predominant meningococcal B or W disease.
  • Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people:

    • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 2 months to 19 years are recommended to receive MenB and MenACWY vaccines.
  • People with medical conditions associated with an increased risk of IMD:

    • People with complement disorders, asplenia and other immunocompromising conditions are recommended to receive MenB and MenACWY vaccines.
  • Travellers:

    • People travelling to certain destinations where there is an increased risk of exposure to serogroups A, C, W or Y (including, but not limited to, the ‘meningitis belt’ of sub-Saharan Africa) are recommended to receive MenACWY vaccine. Vaccination is required for pilgrims attending the annual Hajj in Mecca, Saudi Arabia.
  • People who have occupational risk:

    • Laboratory personnel who frequently handle Neisseria meningitidis should be vaccinated with MenB and MenACWY vaccines.
  • Anyone wishing to reduce their risk of IMD:

    • Vaccination with MenB and MenACWY vaccines may be offered to anyone aged >6 weeks 


For individuals with any specified medical conditions associated with increased risk of meningococcal disease, extra doses may be required - please ask your GP or Practice Nurse about your individual situation.

Booster doses are required in some situations.

Is the meningococcal ACWY vaccine safe?

The meningococcal ACWY vaccine is safe and effective.  We know this because the vaccine has been used safely to prevent the spread of disease in the United Kingdom and United States of America for many years. Side effects are mostly mild and don’t last long. The most common side effects are fever or redness, pain or swelling at the injection site. Serious side effects are very rare.

Vaccines used in Australia must pass strict safety testing before being approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA). In addition, the TGA monitors the safety of vaccines once they are in use.

Can people of other ages access meningococcal ACWY vaccine?

People of all ages who wish to protect themselves against Meningococcal ACWY disease can access the vaccine privately through their GP. The vaccine is available for purchase at Glebe Hill Family Practice, or can be purchased at a pharmacy with a prescription from a GP.

What does it cost?

The fee for private Meningococcal ACWY vaccine at Glebe Hill Family Practice is usually $69 - $120 (depending on the brand required).

For existing patients, appointments solely for vaccination (excluding travel vaccination) are usually bulk-billed by your GP (excluding Saturdays). New patients will require a normal appointment with a GP and will be privately billed.