Infant doses to be reduced
From June 2013, babies in the UK will receive just two doses of the MenC vaccine, one at 3 months and another at 1 year of age – they will no longer receive a dose at 4 months of age. Studies have shown that a single dose at 3 months provides good levels of protection against group C meningococcal disease during the first year of life, which can then be renewed at 12-13 months with the Hib-MenC booster.
Adolescent dose to be added
It is known that individual protection given by infant MenC immunisations wanes over time, and that the low level of current disease is most likely the result of herd immunity. This herd immunity was achieved through the MenC immunisation campaign in 1999-2000, which reduced the number of teenagers carrying the MenC bacteria in their throat, meaning that they could no longer pass the bacteria on to other people. Children currently entering their teenage years have low levels of immunity against MenC, and could potentially start carrying the MenC bacteria in their throat, resulting in a loss of herd immunity. To reduce the chances of this happening, and to directly protect teenagers against MenC disease, teenagers will receive a booster dose of the vaccine from the 2013-14 academic year. Teenagers develop long-lasting protection following MenC vaccination, which will further increase the effectiveness of the new programme.