There has been a lot of media attention about the recent meningococcal outbreaks in New Zealand. Meningococcal disease is a serious bacterial infection that causes meningitis (swelling of the brain membranes) and septicaemia (blood poisoning). It can be quite difficult to diagnose as the initial symptoms appear similar to a bad cold of flu. It can develop quickly and immediate medical attention and treatment with antibiotics is very important.

There are vaccines available to protect against most of the different serogroups (types) of bacteria that cause Meningococcal disease. The types that cause most disease are A. B, C, W, and Y. Unfortunately, no single vaccine offers protection against all of these types but there are vaccines available that cover specific types.

The available vaccines are:

  • Nimenrix and Menactra protects against Meningococcal A, C, W and Y.
  • Bexsero protects against 4 strains of Meningococcal Group B. ( 2 vaccines 4 weeks apart)

It takes at least 2 weeks for the vaccines to work after vaccination.

Until now, these vaccines have not been funded but on December 1st 2019, PHARMAC began funding ONE dose of the Menactra vaccine for young people aged 13 to 25 years, who are living in close quarters (University halls of residence, boarding schools)

If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact us on 09 521 5128

For more information about Meningococcal disease, please visit:

The Immunisation Advisory Centre- Meningococcal Questions and more information 2020