Public Health England (PHE) reminds that the infant dose of MenC that is normally given at three months of age has now been removed from the childhood immunisation schedule (from 1 July 2016). All children will continue to be offered a combined Hib/MenC vaccine when they reach one year of age. This, along with the adolescent MenACWY vaccination, will help to provide protection across all age groups including infants and children.
There are almost no cases of MenC disease in infants or young children in the UK. Most cases are seen in over 25s with a history of travel outside of the UK or coming to the UK from abroad. The Joint Committee on Immunisation and Vaccination (JCVI) advised that the removal of the infant MenC dose, alongside the introduction of the MenB vaccine (Bexsero®) into the routine immunisation programme, would not have any significant risk associated with it, providing that community protection could be sustained by the MenACWY programme that was introduced for teenagers in September 2015. The MenB vaccination for infants, introduced in September 2015, may also help prevent some MenC cases.
Please also remain aware that not all meningococcal disease cases are vaccine preventable, and cases can still occur in vaccinated infants and children. There are also other rare types of the disease for which there is no vaccine currently in use. It therefore remains important for public health practitioners to urge parents to be alert to the symptoms and seek urgent medical attention if ever there is concern. This is particularly important as the new meningococcal vaccination programmes become fully established.
Please assure parents that effective control of this disease within our communities will remain. To help with this, a leaflet for parents is available to order from the DH Orderline please use product code 2904568 and also available to download below. Action is being taken to update PHE and NHS literature and this will gradually be reflected in documents that are already in circulation.