England, Scotland and Wales have become the first countries in the world to offer babies a vaccine against meningitis and septicaemia caused by meningococcal B infection as part of a national immunisation programme.
The MenB vaccine will be available to babies at two months and four months with a booster at 12 months. The vaccine will also be offered to older babies who are due their routine three-month and four-month vaccinations in a single catch-up initiative.
The MenB programme launches in England and Scotland on 1 September 2015 and this autumn in Wales.
At the same time, a combined vaccine that protects against the A, C, W and Y strains of meningococcal disease (MenACWY) is being introduced for teenagers and young adults in England and Scotland.
From August 2015, all 17–18 year olds and all 19–25 year olds due to start university this autumn in England will be offered the vaccine.
From spring 2016, children at school in England in year 9 and year 10 will be offered MenACWY when it replaces the single meningitis C vaccine that is currently part of the national vaccination programme.
A similar MenACWY programme is being introduced in Scotland from 1 August 2015. The vaccine will be offered to all under-25s due to start university and there will be a catch-up programme for all 14–18 year olds.
The moves follow recommendations from the UK Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation. A Welsh government spokesperson says it is still considering implementation of the MenACWY programme.