Meningococcal immunisation service

Meningococcal vaccines are given as a needle, either on their own or as a combination vaccine. They can be provided by recognised immunisation providers. If you're eligible, you can get the meningococcal vaccine for free under the National Immunisation Program.

Health professionals

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Why get immunised against meningococcal disease?

Meningococcal disease is a very serious infection that can cause severe scarring, loss of limbs, brain damage and death.

Vaccination is a safe and effective way to protect yourself from meningococcal disease.

Meningococcal disease is most commonly caused by types A, B, C, W and Y. Vaccines can protect against all these types, but different vaccines protect against different types. No single vaccine protects against all types.

Who should get immunised against meningococcal disease?

Anyone who wants to protect themselves against meningococcal disease can talk to their doctor about getting immunised.  

Anyone wishing to reduce their risk of meningococcal disease can be offered vaccination with meningococcal B and meningococcal ACWY from as early as 6 weeks of age.

Meningococcal immunisation is recommended for:

  • babies and young children under 2 years old (meningococcal B and ACWY ) 
  • teenagers and young adults aged 15-19 years (meningococcal B and ACWY)
  • teenagers and young adults aged 15 to 24 years living together in close quarters, such as dormitories and military barracks (meningococcal B and ACWY)
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 2 months to 19 years (meningococcal B and ACWY)
  • teenagers and young adults aged 15 to 24 years who are current smokers (meningococcal B and ACWY)
  • people who are travelling overseas to places where meningococcal disease is more common, or people travelling to mass gatherings like the Hajj (meningococcal ACWY),
  • people who have medical conditions that increase their risk of invasive meningococcal disease for example, people who have certain blood disorders, or are taking treatment for certain blood disorders people with weakened immune systems, such as people without a functioning spleen, people living with HIV and people who have had a stem cell transplant (meningococcal B and ACWY)
  • laboratory workers who work with the bacterium that causes meningococcal disease (meningococcal B and ACWY)

Speak to your doctor or vaccination provider for advice or refer to the meningococcal recommendations in the Australian Immunisation Handbook for more information and list of medical conditions.

Meningococcal ACWY vaccine is provided free through the National Immunisation Program (NIP) for:

  • Children at 12 months of age
  • Adolescents aged approximately 14 to 16 years thorough school based immunisation programs, and those aged 15-19 as part of an ongoing catch up program through GPs and other vaccination providers
  • People of all ages with medical risk conditions; asplenia and hyposplenia, complement deficiency and those receiving treatment with eculizumab.  

Your doctor or vaccination provider will advise if you or your child have a specified medical risk condition.

People who have not yet reached year 10 can be caught up using meningococcal C vaccine for free under the NIP if they did not receive the vaccine in childhood. This is called catch-up vaccination.

Meningococcal B vaccine is provided free through the National Immunisation Program for:

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander infants as part of the routine childhood schedule at 2, 4 and 12 months of age.
  • People of all ages with medical conditions; asplenia and hyposplenia, complement deficiency and those receiving treatment with eculizumab.

Your doctor or vaccination provider will advise if you or your child have a specified medical risk condition.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children who missed out can still get their meningococcal B vaccines for free under the NIP up until they turn 2 years of age. This catch-up program finishes on 30 June 2023.

Where can you get a meningococcal immunisation?

Meningococcal immunisations are available in each Australian state and territory.

See Where can I get immunised? for more information.

How do you get immunised against meningococcal disease?

You can get meningococcal vaccines on their own or as a combination vaccine. Different vaccines protect against different types of meningococcal disease. They are all given as a needle.

Meningococcal vaccines include:

Your doctor can tell you which vaccine they will use for your meningococcal immunisation.

Do I need to pay for meningococcal immunisation?

Vaccines covered by the NIP are free for people who are eligible. See the NIP Schedule to find out which vaccines you or people in your family are eligible to receive.

Eligible people get the vaccine for free, but your health care provider (for example, your doctor) may charge a consultation fee for the visit. You can check this when you make your appointment.

Children and adolescents not eligible for meningococcal vaccines through the NIP, may be able to receive free vaccines through state-funded programs. Contact your state or territory health department for details.

If you are not eligible for free vaccines, you may need to pay for it. The cost depends on the type of vaccine, the formula and where you buy it from. Your immunisation provider can give you more information.

What are the possible side effects of meningococcal immunisation?

All medicines and vaccines can have side effects. Most of the time they are not serious.

For most people, the chance of having a serious side effect from a vaccine is much lower than the chance of serious harm if you caught the disease.

Talk to your doctor about the possible side effects of meningococcal vaccines, or if you or your child have symptoms that worry you after having a meningococcal vaccine.

Common side effects of meningococcal vaccines include:

  • pain, redness and swelling where the needle went in
  • fever (especially for meningococcal B vaccine in under 2 year olds)
  • feeling unsettled or tired
  • decreased appetite
  • headache.

See the Vaccinate to protect your baby against meningococcal B brochure for information on how to manage fever following meningococcal B vaccination in under 2 year olds.

The Consumer Medicine Information links in How do you get immunised against meningococcal disease? lists the side effects of each vaccine.

More information

Contacts

If you need advice or more information about immunisation, go to our Immunisation contacts page.

Last updated: 
23 June 2020
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