In Britain most babies will receive the Men B Vaccine at 8 weeks, 16 weeks and one year old. It’s a routine vaccine, which is part of the National Health Service’s Childhood vaccination programme.
The Men B vaccine is given as a ‘single injection’ into the baby’s thigh. It’s quite ‘normal’ for babies to receive the Men B immunisation alongside other vaccinations.
The Men B Vaccination will protect babies against infection from the ‘Meningococcal Group B Bacteria’. This is an awful infection, which is responsible for around 90% of meningococcal infections in young children.
It’s important that babies are protected against the meningococcal group B Bacteria cause it can be a serious life-threatening infection.
The NHS states in the last 20 years the meningococcal infection affects around 500 to 17,000 people every year. Even though the infection can affect people of any age, it tends to affect mainly in young child and babies.
The NHS state around 1 in 10 who have the infection die and those who survive are left with ‘permanent’ disabilities, such as the loss of a limb, brain damage and epilepsy.
What is Meningococcal?
Officially known as ‘Neisseria Meningitdis’, and often known simply as meningococcus is an infectious disease that can cause septicaemia (blood poisoning), it can lead to brain damage, meningitis, amputations and even sometimes death.
It usually effects children and young adults and tends to cause developmental impairment and death in around 10% of cases. Typically the infection is spread through saliva, coughing, sneezing, chewing on toys and kissing.
If a child develops meningitis from the meningococcal disease then the bacteria attacks the ‘lining’ between the skull and the brain. This then infects fluid from the meninges, which spreads to the spinal cord. In most cases this will cause a fever, rashes and a stiff neck.
If this occurs it can be hard to treat, even with antibiotics. In most cases around 1 in 10 victims will die from meningococcal meningitis. Those who survive will likely have a hearing defect, lose a limb or have permanent brain damage.
If a child develops sepsis from the meningococcal disease then this can be even more deadly. This will cause severe blood poisoning, which can affect the whole body.
In basic terms bacterial toxins build up and ‘rupture’ blood vessels that quickly affects vital organs. It’s not uncommon for a person’s health to decline rapidly within hours should this type of infection occur.
What Age should Babies have the Men B Vaccination?
Typically a baby will have the Men B vaccine alongside other vaccinations. This is usually part of the NHS’s wide Childhood vaccination programme.
Usually the 5-in-1 Vaccine and the Pneumococcal Vaccine are given at the same time.
In most cases, a baby will be vaccinated with the Men B vaccine at:
• 8 Weeks
• 16 Weeks
• One Year
How safe is the Men B Vaccine?
The NHS uses the Men B vaccination, which is officially called ‘Bexsero’.
Around 8,000 people had the Men B Vaccine during clinical trials to test the vaccinations safety. This included over 5,000 babies and toddlers.
To date the National Health Service states there has been around a million doses given with ‘no safety concerns identified’.
Unfortunately there’s ‘hundreds’ of different strains of the meningococcal group b bacteria around the world. At this moment in time the NHS state that some ‘tests predict that the Bexsero Men B vaccine protects against almost 90% of the ones circulating in England’.
How does the Men B Vaccination Work?
Typically the Men B Vaccination is ‘made’ from three major proteins, which are found on the surface of most meningococcal bacteria.
These are then combined with the outer membrane of one Men B Strain. Together these help the bodies immune system to ‘build up’ protection against any future exposures of the bacteria.
Men B Vaccine Side Effects
Generally speaking the Men B vaccine has a ‘good’ safety record, however just like other forms of injections, there can be some side effects. This typically will not affect all babies and young children, however for some it can occur.
Common side effects of the Men B Vaccine include:
• A Fever
• Crying / Irritable
• Swelling, Pain, Redness at the injection site
As stated most babies will have no side effects at all, if any side effects do occur, such as the ones listed above, they usually are mild and short-lived.
The nurse at your vaccination appointment will most likely give you advice on any medication a baby can take to reduce a fever. Usually this tends to be liquid paracetamol, however never give a baby any form of medication without professional health advice.
It’s important you’re aware there can be ‘very rare’ side effects of the Men B Vaccine, this usually surrounds a baby having an allergic reaction. In medical terms an allergic reaction is called an ‘anaphylactic reaction’.
In most cases an allergic reaction happens within minutes of the vaccination. This is why it’s important for the Doctor or Nurse to check the baby before you leave the surgery or hospital. Should a reaction happen the healthcare professional is trained to treat the reaction and the baby will make a complete recovery.
Please bear in mind this page has been created as a helpful ‘general guide’ only. It does not substitute professional medical advice, opinion or treatment. Equally any information on this page should be used at ‘your own risk’ and we cannot accept responsibility or liability under any circumstances.
Please speak to a professional healthcare worker such as a Nurse or Doctor if you have more questions or are concerned about the Men B Vaccine.