The meningitis ACWY (MenACWY) vaccine helps protect against meningitis and septicaemia (blood poisoning) caused by 4 groups of meningococcal bacteria: A, C, W and Y.
Meningococcal bacteria are significant causes of meningitis and septicaemia. There are 5 main groups of meningococcal bacteria that can cause meningitis and septicaemia – A, B, C, W and Y.
The MenACWY vaccine's replaced the MenC vaccine that was previously used in the routine teenage immunisation programme in S3.
What is meningitis?
Meningitis is inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord. This causes pressure on the brain resulting in symptoms like:
- severe headache
- stiff neck
- dislike of bright light
Meningitis can progress very rapidly and can lead to:
- learning difficulties
It can even lead to death.
More about meningitis
What is septicaemia?
Septicaemia (blood poisoning) is a serious, life-threatening infection that gets worse very quickly. The risk of death is higher than with meningitis.
The signs of cold hands and feet, pale skin, vomiting and being very sleepy or difficult to wake can come on quickly.
More about meningitis and septicaemia
Why should I be vaccinated?
Young people have a higher risk of getting meningococcal disease. You will be offered immunisation to protect yourself as well as to protect others around you.
You may have previously had a MenC vaccine to protect you against meningococcal C infection, but this won't protect you against MenW. Having the MenACWY vaccine after getting the MenC vaccine will give you better protection against MenC infection and protect you against the other 3 meningococcal groups (A, W and Y).
Meningococcal bacteria live in the throats of about 25% of young people without causing any problems at all. The bacteria can spread to other people through coughing, sneezing or kissing. The MenACWY programme is targeting young people because of the higher risk of the bacteria spreading among young people of the same age.
Who is eligible for the vaccine?
The MenACWY vaccine is routinely offered to all young people who are around 14 years of age. Young people above 14 years old who missed the opportunity to get immunised may also be offered the vaccine.
Read more about the vaccines offered to young people
When will I be immunised?
The vaccine is offered through vaccination clinics at school. Your health board will inform you about your vaccination appointment. You do not need to book an appointment to be vaccinated.
Find out how to contact your health board regarding your vaccination appointment