Meningitis C Immunisation
The Meningitis C vaccine was introduced to Ireland in 2000 and became part of the Primary Childhood Immunisation Programme, for children up to 2 years of age. At the time of its introduction, a 'catch-up' programme was also launched, to ensure all children and young adults up to the age of 22 years were also immunised against the infection.
Meningococcal disease predominantly affects children and young people, so when the Meningitis C vaccine was introduced in 2000, the Department of Health and Children launched a national immunisation programme for everyone in Ireland up to and included the age of 22 years. The programme was implemented on a phased basis:
- Phase 1 targeted those at greatest risk (children under 5 years and young people aged 15-18)
- Phase 2 targeted primary school children and post-primary students aged 12-14
- Phase 3 targeted young people aged 19-22.
All phases of this catch-up programme were completed in 2002.
Prior to the introduction of the vaccine, group C meningococcal disease accounted for 30-40% of all meningococcal disease cases every year (other forms include groups A, B, W135 and Y). Since the introduction of the vaccine, there has been a marked reduction in the incidence of meningitis C, from 139 cases of group C meningococcal disease in 2000, to 5 cases in 2005.
It is important to note that the meningitis C vaccine only protects against group C meningococcal infection and not the other forms of the disease. It is therefore important to remain vigilant against signs and symptoms of meningitis.
Immunisation is provided free of charge and is now given as part of the Primary Childhood Immunisation Programme.
Reviewed: September 28, 2006
Discussions on this topic are now closed.