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The vaccines available for various strains

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Children who received the full programme of vaccines offered free by the HSE to newborns and teenagers are covered against meningitis C.

They are also protected against Hib, a bacterium that can cause a number of serious illnesses, including meningitis.

Since October 2016, another vaccine to protect against meningitis B has been offered to infants.

However, children born before that date did not receive a vaccine to protect them from meningitis B.

They are vulnerable to this B strain of meningitis unless their parents paid to get the vaccine at a cost of €280 privately for them.

Concern has emerged about yet another form of meningitis in recent years - group W meningococcal disease. It is commonly known as men W.

This strain is not yet included in routine HSE jabs offered to children and adolescents.

A MenACWY vaccine is available at €70.

Irish Independent