Your Risk

It's a rare infection and infants younger than one year, followed by children from one to four years of age, have the highest incidence of meningococcal disease.1

The risk of contracting meningococcal meningitis varies by your age and by the country you live in or travel to.2 Babies and young children are particularly vulnerable to meningitis as they cannot easily fight infection because their immune system is not yet fully developed.3

Diagnosis may be challenging in infants and young children as symptoms may not be specific and because the infection is rare doctors may not have seen a case before4

Even when meningococcal meningitis is diagnosed early and adequate treatment is started promptly, the consequences can be severe.5 Meningococcal meningitis can cause death in as little as 24 hours from the first symptoms.5

A devastating disease caused by bacteria that can be carried and spread from person to person

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Coughing and sneezing

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Immature immune system

Some people carry meningococcal bacteria at the back of their nose and throat without having any symptoms, but are still able to pass the bacteria on to others.2,8,9 It is important to be able to recognise the signs and symptoms of meningococcal meningitis in infants and young children.



Children up to one year are 8x more likely and children aged 1-4 years are 2x more likely to contract meningococcal meningitis than individuals aged 15-24 years, the next highest at-risk group.1


Infants up to one year are 16x more likely to contract meningococcal meningitis compared with the overall population.6


1. Public Health England. Invasive meningococcal disease in England: annual laboratory confirmed reports for epidemiological year 2017 to 2018. Health Protection Report. Volume 12 Number 38. Last Accessed September 2019

2. World Health Organization. Meningococcal meningitis factsheet. Last Accessed September 2019

3. Meningitis Research Foundation. Are you at risk? Last Accessed September 2019

4. Thompson MJ, et al. Clinical recognition of meningococcal disease in children and adolescents. Lancet. 2006;367(9508):397–403. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(06)67932-4.

5. World Health Organization. Meningococcal vaccines: WHO position paper, November 2011. Weekly Epidemiological Report. 2011;47,(86):521–40.

6. Parikh SR, et al. Epidemiology, clinical presentation, risk factors, intensive care admission and outcomes of invasive meningococcal disease in England, 2010-2015. Vaccine. 2018;36(26):3876–81. doi: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2018.02.038.

7. National Health Service. Routine childhood immunisations. Last Accessed September 2019

8. Memish ZA, et al. Invasive meningococcal disease and travel. J Infect Public Health. 2010;3(4):143–51. doi: 10.1016/j.jiph.2010.09.008.

9. MacLennan J, et al. Social behavior and meningococcal carriage in British teenagers. Emerg Infect Dis. 2006;12(6):950–7.

PP-VAC-GBR-1270 September 2019

Take Action

The UK has a routine immunisation schedule which includes vaccines that help protect against meningococcal disease.7 Different vaccines are given at different ages: it is important to receive the complete course of vaccination during infancy, childhood and adolescence.