Hib/MenC vaccine

Key vaccine facts

The Hib/MenC vaccine used in the UK boosts protection against against Hib disease, and protects against meningococcal disease caused by type C bacteria. Both of these are serious diseases which can cause meningitis and septicaemia, especially in babies and young children.

The vaccine can safely be given at the same time as other vaccines in the schedule (see the full UK routine schedule for details of the other vaccines). It is a combination vaccine, which reduces the number of injections a child needs. Read more about combination vaccines and multiple vaccinations and why these are not a risk to your baby's immune system.

The vaccine does not contain any live bacteria and cannot cause Hib disease or meningococcal disease.

The brand name of the Hib/MenC vaccine used in the UK is Menitorix (see the Patient Information Leaflet ).

Who should have the vaccine?

In the UK the Hib/MenC vaccine is given to babies at 12-13 months.

The vaccine is also recommended for people with some long-term health conditions who are at greater risk of complications from Hib disease and meningococcal disease. This includes people with:

  • asplenia or splenic dysfunction (a spleen that is missing or does not work properly)
  • sickle cell anaemia
  • coeliac disease
  • complement disorders (the complement system is an important part of the immune system)

Ingredients

The Hib/MenC vaccine used in the UK is called Menitorix. Apart from the active ingredients (the antigens), it contains very small amounts of these ingredients:

  • sodium chloride (salt)
  • sucrose (sugar), used as a stabiliser

The vaccine may also contain traces of these products used during the manufacturing process:

Other brands of Hib/MenC vaccines used in other countries may contain different ingredients. If you are not in the UK, ask for the Patient Information leaflet for the vaccine you are offered.

Side effects

Very common (affecting more than 1 in 10 people at each dose):

  • redness, tenderness and/or swelling at the injection site
  • fever (raised temperature)
  • irritability
  • loss of appetite
  • sleepiness

Many of these symptoms can be relieved by giving paracetamol (Calpol)if your child is over 2 months, or ibuprofen if your child is over 3 months and weighs more than 5kg (see NHS Choices for more advice on giving painkillers to babies and children).

Common (affecting up to 1 in 10 people at each dose):

  • a reaction at the injection site, such as a hard lump

Uncommon (affecting up to 1 in 100 people at each dose):

  • crying
  • diarrhoea
  • being sick (vomiting)
  • skin allergies or rash
  • high temperature (above 39.5°C)

Rare (affecting up to 1 in 1000 people at each dose):

  • abdominal pain
  • being unable to sleep
  • generally feeling unwell

You should consult your doctor if these happen after vaccination. This is mainly to check that it is the vaccine causing the symptoms, and not some unrelated disease.

Anaphylaxis

As with any vaccine, medicine or food, there is a very small chance of a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis). Anaphylaxis is different from less severe allergic reactions because it causes life-threatening breathing and/or circulation problems. It is always extremely serious but can be treated with adrenaline. Health care workers who give vaccines know how to do this. In the UK between 1997 and 2003 there were a total of 130 reports of anaphylaxis following ALL immunisations. Around 117 million doses of vaccines were given in the UK during this period. This means that the overall rate of anaphylaxis is around 1 in 900,000.

More information on side effects

Reactions listed under ‘possible side effects’ or ‘adverse events’ on vaccine product information sheets may not all be directly linked to the vaccine. See Vaccine side effects and adverse reactions for more information on why this is the case.

If you are concerned about any reactions that occur after vaccination, consult your doctor. In the UK you can report suspected vaccine side effects to the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) through the Yellow Card Scheme . You can also contact the MHRA to ask for data on Yellow Card reports for individual vaccines . See more information on the Yellow Card scheme and monitoring of vaccine safety.

More information about the vaccine

The Hib/MenC vaccine is a conjugate vaccine (see our page on 'Types of vaccine'). Sugars (polysaccharides) are taken from the capsule around the Hib bacteria and joined to a non-toxic protein from tetanus. The protein helps to stimulate the immune system in a broader way to respond well to the vaccine. This gives a better immune response in individuals of all ages.

The Hib/MenC vaccine was introduced in the UK in 2006, after studies showed that protection against Hib provided by the 5-in-1 vaccine (given at that time to babies at 8, 12 and 16 weeks) waned during the second year of life.

Does the vaccine work?

In 1991, the year before a Hib vaccine was introduced, there were 759 confirmed cases of invasive Hib in children under five in England. In 2014, there were only 2 confirmed cases in this age group.

Source: Public Health England and the Health Protection Agency Archive

Following introduction of the MenC vaccine in 1999, the number of cases of meningococcal disease caused by group C bacteria fell by over 90% in vaccinated groups. There has been a very slight rise in cases since 2014-15.

Source: Public Health England and the Health Protection Agency Archive

Page last updated: 
Monday, January 21, 2019