Holiday Traveller

What is Meningococcal Meningitis Vaccination?

Meningococcal meningitis is an acute disease caused by Neisseria meningitides bacteria; it is characterised by the sudden onset of fever, intense headache, vomiting and neck stiffness. A skin rash appears in the later stages of the disease and signifies severe illness. Although the disease is treatable with antibiotics, sufferers may become very sick or even die within hours of onset, if not diagnosed promptly and correctly. The disease is transmitted from person-to-person by respiratory droplets i.e. coughing, sneezing, kissing. Extensive travels in crowded conditions and prolonged contact with the local population in crowded places are risk factors.

Meningitis in Australia

In Australia and other developed nations meningitis mainly occurs in the form of serogroups B & C.

The Conjugate C vaccine provides long-term immunity against this form of the disease and is used in the standard childhood schedule to provide active immunisation of children from the age of 6 weeks, and in adolescents and adults.

Infants - Data indicates that immunity was achieved in 91% of infants after 1 dose and 98-100% of infants one month after the third dose. There are currently no recommendations for boosting.

Adults - 99-100% of adults have an adequate response after a single dose of vaccine.

 

A new vaccine against serogroup B has recently been approved in Australia – its use in presently under consideration by public health groups.

Where is it found?

Meningococcal Meningitis occurs in all countries. In sub-Saharan Africa, epidemics of serogroup A meningococcal disease occur frequently during the dry season (December through June) particularly in the savannah areas extending from Mali eastward to Ethiopia, a region known as the ‘meningitis belt’. Epidemics due to serogroups A and/or C have also occurred in areas further south in Africa (Tanzania, Burundi, Angola) as well as in parts of Asia, in particular northern India, Nepal and Mongolia, again during the dry season (November to May). A complex range of risk factors cause epidemics.

Risk to travellers

The risk to travellers is generally low. Vaccination is recommended for travel to the '€˜meningitis belt'€™ during the dry season, for travel to areas with an active epidemic, or for prolonged travel when extensive contact with the local population in endemic areas is expected.

NOTE - Meningococcal meningitis vaccination is mandatory for all travellers over 12 months of age making the pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia for the Hajj.

Meningitis Vaccination

What is Meningitis Vaccination?

Vaccination

Type

Travel:

  • Polysaccharide ACYW135 vaccine (Menomune/Mencevax)
  • Conjugate ACYW135 vaccine (Menactra/Menveo)

Domestic:

  • Conjugate (Meningitec/Menjugate/NeisVac-C)

Schedule

Travel:

  • Mencevax/Menomune: A single dose provides three years protection. Not recommended for children under the age of 2 years.
  • Menactra: 2-55 years of age/Menveo: 11 years and over. Protection for 5+ years. (The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) recommends both vaccines suitable for ages 9 months and above.)

Domestic:

  • Age 6 weeks to 12 months: Three intramuscular doses administered at least 1 month apart.
  • Children (over 12 months), adolescents and adults: A single intramuscular dose.

Level of protection

Travel:

  • ~90% effective.
  • Effective against serotypes A, C, Y, W135.
  • Conjugate vaccine diminishes carriage of bacteria in respiratory tract.

Domestic:

  • Adequate antibody response against serogroup C in 98-100% of infants after third dose and after a single dose in adolescents and young adults.
  • Effective against serotype C.

Possible Side effects

Usually infrequent and mild:

  • Common: Redness and swelling around the injection site.
  • Less common: Feeling unwell, headache, fever, lethargy.
  • Rare: Wheezing, rash, sever local reactions.

As with all vaccines, there is a small risk of allergic reaction.

More information on Meningococcal Meningitis is available during your pre-travel consultation with Travelvax.

Call 1300 360 164 for the location of the clinic nearest to you.