Meningococcal vaccine

Information about meningococcal vaccines, who they are recommended for, how and where to get vaccinated. If you're eligible, you can get the meningococcal vaccine for free under the National Immunisation Program.

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 vaccinated against meningococcal disease

Anyone who wants to protect themselves against meningococcal disease can talk to their health professional about getting vaccinated.  

The Australian Immunisation Handbook recommends meningococcal vaccination for specific groups including:

  • infants, children, adolescents and young adults
  • special risk groups, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, people with eligible medical conditions, laboratory workers who frequently handle Neisseria meningitidis, travellers, and young adults who live in close quarters or who are current smokers.

Meningococcal B vaccine is free under the National Immunisation Program for:

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 2 months, 4 months, 6 months (eligible medical conditions) and 12 months.
  • People of all ages with asplenia and hyposplenia, complement deficiency and those receiving treatment with eculizumab.

Meningococcal ACWY vaccine is free under the National Immunisation Program for:

  • children aged 12 months
  • adolescents aged 14-16 years (primarily delivered through school-based vaccination programs)
  • People of all ages with asplenia and hyposplenia, complement deficiency and those receiving treatment with eculizumab.  

Your health professional will advise if you or your child have an eligible medical risk condition. See also Immunisation for people with medical conditions.

Eligible people under 20 years old and refugees and other humanitarian entrants of any age can get free catch-up vaccination. This is if they did not receive these vaccines in childhood and it is recommended to receive the vaccine. This includes:

  • Adolescents up to 20 years of age who missed out on their adolescent dose of meningococcal ACWY vaccine at 14 to 16 years of age.
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children who missed out on their meningococcal B vaccines up until they turn 2 years of age.

Meningococcal vaccines should not be given to people who have had:

  • anaphylaxis after a previous dose of any meningococcal vaccine
  • anaphylaxis after any component of a meningococcal vaccine.

Meningococcal vaccines are not generally recommended for pregnant or breastfeeding women.

Read more about Getting vaccinated.

How to get vaccinated against meningococcal disease

Meningococcal vaccines come on their own or as a combination vaccine. Different vaccines protect against different types of meningococcal disease.

Meningococcal vaccines include:

* Indicates National Immunisation Program vaccine.

Your health professional will tell you which vaccine they will give you.

Find product information and consumer medicine information for each available vaccine from the Therapeutic Goods Administration.

Where to get vaccinated

You can get your vaccine from a range of health professionals. Find out where and more about your vaccination visit at getting vaccinated.

Possible side effects of meningococcal vaccination

You may experience minor side effects following vaccination. Most reactions are mild and last no more than a couple of days and you will recover without any problems.

Common side effects of meningococcal vaccines include:

  • irritable, crying, unsettled and generally unhappy
  • loss of appetite
  • headache (usually in adolescents and adults)
  • pain, redness and swelling at injection site
  • occasionally an injection-site lump (may last many weeks - no treatment needed)
  • mild fever
  • fever (especially for meningococcal B vaccine in under 2 year olds).

It’s important to give your baby paracetamol to reduce the risk of fever with meningococcal B vaccine. 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.

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

The Consumer Medicine Information available on the Therapeutic Goods Administration website lists the ingredients and side effects of each vaccine.

Learn more about the possible side effects of vaccination.

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