Your Risk

It's a rare infection and teenagers and young adults have the next highest incidence of meningococcal disease after babies and young children.1

Up to 24% of 19-year-olds carry the bacteria without having any symptoms2

2 in 8 people

Even when meningococcal meningitis is diagnosed early and adequate treatment is started promptly, the consequences can be severe. Meningococcal meningitis can cause death in as little as 24 hours from the first symptoms.3

A devastating disease caused by bacteria that can be carried and spread from person to person5,6

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Intimate kissing

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Attending bars, clubs and mass gatherings

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Sharing eating or drinking utensils

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Coughing and sneezing

Some people carry meningococcal bacteria at the back of their nose and throat without having any symptoms.3 Adolescents and young adults are more likely to carry the bacteria that cause meningococcal meningitis than some other age groups.2,6

In addition to coughing and sneezing, common social behaviours and environmental factors such as intimate kissing and smoking may promote the spread of bacteria that cause meningococcal meningitis.5,6 People exposed to these factors may be more likely to carry the bacteria without having any symptoms, but are still able to pass the bacteria on to others.5,7,8



1. 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.

2. Christensen H, et al. Meningococcal carriage by age: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Lancet Infect Dis. 2010;10(12):853–61. doi: 10.1016/S1473-3099(10)70251-6.

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

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

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

6. Tully J, et al. Risk and protective factors for meningococcal disease in adolescents: matched cohort study. BMJ. 2006;332(7539):445–50. doi: 10.1136/bmj.38725.728472.BE.

7. 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.

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

PP-VAC-GBR-1271 September 2019

Take Action

The UK has a routine immunisation schedule which includes vaccines that help protect against meningococcal disease.4 Different vaccines are given at different ages: it is important to receive the complete course of vaccination during infancy, childhood and adolescence. Follow this link to find out about vaccines to help to protect you against some types of meningococcal disease.4