Meningitis (ACWY) Vaccination
- Low risk
- Moderate risk
- High risk
Meningitis is an infection caused by the meningococcal group of bacterium. The disease is transmitted by sneezing, kissing, coughing or direct contact with respiratory fluids from an infected person.
Where is meningitis found?
There are several serotypes, but meningitis B and C are the most common in the UK. Type A and type W135 can cause serious epidemics which occur predominantly in Africa, specifically ranging from Senegal in the West to Ethiopia in the East (known as the meningitis belt). These serotypes have also been responsible for outbreaks in Saudi Arabia during the Hajj pilgrimages and in Moscow in Russia.
Symptoms of meningitis include one or more of the following: sudden onset of fever, intense headache, nausea, vomiting, photophobia (intolerance of light), neck stiffness, blotchy red skin rash. It causes inflammation of the brain and spine causing convulsions and seizures leading to coma, and can be fatal in severe cases.
You can prevent getting meningitis by following basic personal hygiene etiquette when coughing and sneezing. Avoiding overcrowded areas such as busy markets and local transport may also reduce risk of exposure but may not always be practical.
Vaccines to protect against multiple strains of meningococcal meningitis for travellers are available: ACWY VAX vaccine, Menveo and Nimenrix. These are different vaccines to that included in the UK childhood vaccination programme which only protect against type C.
Pilgrims travelling to Saudi Arabia for Hajj are required to have a valid certificate of vaccination against the disease.
Vaccination is recommended for people travelling to a country where meningococcal meningitis is present and at Cosmopolitan Medical Clinic, our doctor or nurse will advise if you should consider having this vaccine. Women who are either pregnant or breastfeeding should discuss their itinerary and risk profile with our travel nurse.
Urgent medical attention is required if a person has contracted meningitis. Antibiotics and supportive treatment are often required. It is also important to treat close contacts of infected individuals.
The vaccine is given in a single dose for people over 12 months old.
Pilgrims travelling to Saudi Arabia for Hajj are recommended to have the vaccine at least 10 days before travel for entry to Saudi Arabia.