From 1st July 2016, the schedule for MenC vaccination is changing. The total number of doses given to children will be reduced from three to two, reflecting the great success of the MenC vaccination campaign in reducing cases of MenC disease in the UK to almost zero.
In the new schedule, babies will get their first dose of MenC vaccine at 12-13 months of age through the combination Hib/MenC vaccine. They will then receive a booster dose at 13-14 years of age as part of the MenACWY vaccine. Previously babies received a first dose of MenC vaccine at 3 months of age, but from July 1st this will no longer be given.
The MenC vaccination programme was introduced in the UK in 1999 and quickly led to a dramatic fall in the numbers of cases of MenC disease. Meningococcal bacteria are commonly carried in the back of the throat and passed around from person to person, but the vaccine prevents carriage of MenC bacteria. This means that even people who are not vaccinated are protected by herd immunity. Currently there are almost no cases of MenC disease in infants or young children in the UK. Before vaccination, there were nearly 1000 cases a year and 70-80 deaths a year. In addition, it is expected that the new MenB vaccine will provide some protection against some cases of MenC disease.
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) constantly monitors UK vaccine programmes to ensure that they give the best possible protection through the smallest number of vaccines given at the most effective times. The JCVI believes that babies under a year old are well protected against MenC disease through herd immunity. They have therefore recommended that that infants no longer need vaccination against MenC disease at 3 months of age.
NHS leaflet for parents about the MenC schedule changes