This article was contributed to Health & Fitness Costa del Sol by Dr Charles Triay from the Triay Medical Centre in San Pedro, Marbella.
There are several strains or ‘groups’ of meningococcal bacteria such as A,B,C,W, X and Y. The majority of meningococcal disease in the UK in the last 50 yrs has been due to group B and group C meningitis. Meningococcal disease affects around 2,000 people in the UK and Ireland every year and about 1500 cases are laboratory-confirmed. Following the introduction of the very effective Meningitis C vaccine, the incidence of this strain fell dramatically and now 85% of cases are caused by the Meningitis B strain. The disease can affect anyone of any age, but babies below the age of 1 year are at highest risk and are four times more likely to contract the disease than any other age group. The Meningitis B vaccine is the only way to reduce the risk of developing the illness.
Meningitis B Vaccine
In the UK from September 2015 babies born on or after 1 July 2015 are being offered the MenB (meningococcal group B) vaccine as part of the routine immunisation schedule. It means starting the first vaccine at the age of 2 months, followed by boosters at 4 months and 12 months. Children older than 5 months will only need two boosters with an interval of at least 2 months between them.
The vaccine offers 88% protection against the most prevalent strains of Meningitis B in the UK and 78% protection against the strains prevalent in Europe. Furthermore as more patients are vaccinated, fewer bacteria will be present in the general population and transmission of the disease will fall further as a result. This is known as Herd Immunity.
There are no serious side effects reported with this vaccine. The commonest reported side effects are soreness at the injection site, fever, lack of appetite, muscle aches, irritability, sleepiness and rashes. In children below the age of 1 year it is recommended that they receive Paracetamol 125mg every 6 to 8 hours from the moment of the injection for the first 24 hours to reduce the incidence of these side effects.
The vaccine is made up of four different types of protein found on the surface of the bacteria, which are the components that induce the immune response in the body. Therefore it is not a live vaccine that means it is not made with live attenuated bacteria. It is also important to note that it does not contain any Mercury. It contains Aluminium Hydroxide to help improve the immune response, Histidine to regulate the acidity and a physiological concentration of salt and sucrose in water.
Patients with a risk of severe allergic reaction (Anaphylaxis) should not receive this vaccine. Severe immune deficiency is not a strict contraindication and food allergies are also NOT a contraindication to this vaccine.
The vaccine has not yet been introduced as a standard vaccine in the infant vaccination protocol of the Andalusian health authorities. At the present the vaccine is currently in short supply and will not be available for purchase in pharmacies before mid March at the earliest. The estimated cost of each booster is of 130€.
For further information, contact Triay Medical Centre on: 952 780 540 or firstname.lastname@example.org