What Vaccines To Prevent Meningitis?

Vaccines available in NZ for prevention of meningitis

Bexsero – against group B

Menactra and Nimerix, against group A, C, W and Y. Licenced to use from 9months or 12 months, respectively.

Meningitis Types in New Zealand

Currently half of the case of meningitis in NZ is caused by the B strain. Meningitis caused by the W strain is on the rise worldwide and in NZ. There was a mass vaccination campaign in Northland last year for the W strain.


Figures extracted from EpiSurv and the Invasive Pathogens Laboratory results, ESR, on 19 February 2019 are as below: The total number of reported cases for 2018 is 120 cases with 10 deaths. This is higher than the 112 cases and 9 deaths reported in 2017. There have been eight cases and no deaths reported in 2019 year to date (YTD).

In 2018 117 (97.5%) cases were laboratory-confirmed and the group was determined for 113 cases:  group B (51 cases), group W (33 cases), group Y (16 cases), group C (10 cases), non-groupable (NG) (2 cases) and group X (1 case). In 2019 YTD all eight cases were laboratory-confirmed with the group determined as: group B (5 cases) and group C (3 cases). The Auckland region (Waitemata, Auckland and Counties Manukau DHBs) had the highest group B notifications (17 cases).

Highest incidence of these are in young children and 15-24 year old.

Current recommendations:

Menactra is recommended and funded for adults and children aged from two years with any of the following conditions, as listed in the Pharmaceutical Schedule:

  • for close contacts of a group A, C, W or Y meningococcal disease case
  • for individuals posthaematopoietic stem cell transplantation; or following immunosuppressive therapy longer than 28 days
  • for individuals pre- or post-splenectomy; pre- or post-solid organ transplantation; with functional asplenia; with complement deficiency (acquired or inherited); or who are HIVpositive.

Meningococcal vaccines are also recommended (but not funded) for:

  • other infants and young children aged under five years, adolescents and young adults – particularly adolescents and young adults living in close proximity to each other
  • travellers to high-risk countries and Hajj pilgrims
  • laboratory workers regularly exposed to meningococcal cultures.

Our recommendations:

Meningococcal disease can affect all age groups, with the highest incidence in young children and adolescents.

We recommend both meningococcal ACWY and meningococcal B vaccines, particularly for young children and 15-24 year old.

Further information and references

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