Meningococcal C (MenC)

The Meningococcal C (MenC) vaccine helps protect against meningitis and septicaemia (blood poisoning) caused by meningococcal group C bacteria.

To be fully protected against MenC you need separate doses of the MenC vaccine as a baby as well as a booster dose as a teenager. The booster dose increases protection against MenC and is given in S3 at the same time as the Td/IPV booster.

From August 1 2014,young people under 25 who are starting university for the first time, should have a catch up booster of the MenC vaccine before they start university. This catch-up programme will continue for several years until all university entrants have received a MenC teenage booster, which was introduced in 2013. This vaccine only protects against one type of meningitis and septicaemia, so you still need to know the signs and symptoms. 

Questions and answers:

How effective is the MenC vaccine?

Since the vaccine was introduced, the number of babies under the age of one with the group C disease has fallen by about 95 per cent across the UK. A booster dose of MenC in the second year of life is needed to provide longer-term protection.

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Are there any possible side effects?

Your baby may have redness, swelling or tenderness where they had the injection. About half of all the babies who have the vaccine may become irritable, and about 1 in 20 could get a mild fever.

Read more about the common side effects of immunisations that might occur in babies and young children up to five years of age.

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What is MenC?

MenC (meningococcal group C bacteria) can cause meningitis (an infection of the lining of the brain) and septicaemia (another name for blood poisoning) refers to a bacterial infection in the blood. Meningitis and septicaemia are both very serious – they can cause permanent disability and death and the symptoms can come on quickly – so you must get treatment straight away. After babies, young people are particularly vulnerable to meningococcal infection.

A full description of the signs and symptoms of meningitis and septicaemia in babies, adolescents and adults, visit the Meningitis information page. 

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How do I do the glass test? 

Someone with septicaemia may develop a rash which will not fade under pressure. You can check by doing a ‘glass test.’

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Last reviewed on 27 July 2016

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