Sunday 18 August 2019

New meningitis vaccine for children starting secondary school in September

Children starting secondary school in September are to be offered a new meningitis vaccine. Photo: PA
Children starting secondary school in September are to be offered a new meningitis vaccine. Photo: PA
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

Children starting secondary school in September are to be offered a new meningitis vaccine.

The MenACWY is aimed at providing additional protection against meningococcal C and other types of meningococcal disease -W and Y- that have increased in Ireland in the past few years.

MenACWY vaccine will replace the MenC vaccine booster dose which has been offered to first year  students since 2014.

Between 1999 and  June 2019, there were 3,782 notifications of meningococcal disease reported.

A marked and rapid decline in meningococcal C followed the introduction of the MenC vaccine in 2000, the Health Protection Surveillance Centre said.

An increase in meningitis C emerged in 2014 (six cases) followed by further annual increases until 2017 when it reached a peak (30 cases).

Since 2018 the number of meningitis C cases has been declining (20 cases in 2018 and eight cases to date in 2019). Meningitis B has decreased markedly over the 20 years even before the introduction of the MenB vaccine in 2016 .

Since 2015 an emergence of W and Y strains of meningitis has occurred.

Prior to 2015 the annual number of both was low, with an average of two cases  per year.

Between 2015 and 2018, a total of 36  W and 20 Y cases were reported, giving an average annual notification rate of 9 cases per year W and five cases per year of  Y.

The  increase in meningococcal W and Y disease since 2015 is of concern and introducing the MenACWY vaccine for adolescents will provide additional protection against meningococcal disease.

The watchdog said all parents are encouraged to ensure that their adolescents are vaccinated on time according to the recommended schedule (age appropriate) and should not delay vaccination

All individuals should avail of the meningococcal vaccines offered through the primary, junior infants and adolescent programme.

Individuals with risk factors that increase their risk of meningococcal disease due to disease or treatment should be vaccinated in accordance with national guidance.

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