MenACWY Schools Immunisation Programme

The HSE school vaccination teams have started contacting parents and guardians to offer vaccination appointments to students who are due vaccines.

From September 2019, when your child is in 1st year of secondary school, they will be offered a meningococcal ACWY booster vaccination.

Your child will have been offered the MenC vaccine in infancy. Protection against meningococcal C disease reduces over time so from September 2019 a booster dose of MenACWY vaccine is recommended for children in First year of secondary school and age equivalent special school and home-schooled students to provide additional protection against MenC disease. 

There has been an increase of other types of meningococcal disease in Ireland in the past few years. The MenACWY (meningococcal ACWY) vaccine protects your child against meningococcal disease caused by Men C and also  types A, W and Y.

Meningococcal disease is a serious illness which can cause meningitis (inflammation of the lining around the brain), septicaemia (blood poisoning) and lead to death.

The onset of meningococcal disease can be very quick. The symptoms include fever, stiff neck, headache, joint pains, and a rash.

Meningococcal disease may occur at any age but the highest rate of disease occurs in children under 5 years of age, especially children under one year of age. The next highest risk group are young people aged 15-19 years.

This vaccine will be given by a HSE doctor or nurse to students during the second or third term in first year of secondary school along with the second dose of HPV vaccine.

The HSE will inform you of the date of the immunisations.

If a student misses their immunisation in school, the HSE will arrange for the student to be vaccinated at a HSE clinic.

In Ireland, all the recommended childhood vaccines listed in the schools immunisation programme are free.


We have compared the possible complications of developing Meningococcal disease with the possible side effects of getting the MenACWY vaccine.

Disease Effects of Disease Side Effects of the Vaccine

Meningococcal disease is a serious illness caused by the bacteria Neisseria meningitidis. This bacterial infection can cause meningitis (inflammation of the lining around the brain) and septicaemia (blood poisoning).

In older children and adolescents, the main symptoms of meningitis and septicaemia may include:

  • a stiff neck
  • a very bad headache (this alone is not a reason to get medical help)
  • severe pains and aches in the arms, legs and joints
  • being sleepy, less responsive, vacant, or confused
  • a dislike of bright lights
  • very cold hands and feet
  • shivering
  • rapid breathing
  • red or purple spots that do not fade under pressure
  • vomiting
  • fever
  • diarrhoea and stomach cramps
  • a rash
  • convulsions or seizures

It is important to remember that not everyone will develop all the symptoms listed. If someone develops some of the symptoms listed, especially red or purple spots, get medical help urgently.

Meningococcal disease can cause meningitis which can leave people with after-effects, including:

  • Memory loss
  • Behavioural and emotional problems
  • Loss of hearing
  • Loss of sight
  • Acquired brain injury


It can also cause  septicaemia which can lead to damage the blood vessels and reduce the flow of oxygen to the major organs including the skin and underlying tissues. This can lead to:

  • Skin and tissue damage
  • Bone growth problems
  • Organ failure
  • Limb loss
  • Death

The most common side effects seen in teenagers and young people are redness, hardening and itching at the injection site, fever, headache, nausea and fatigue.

These symptoms should last no more than 24 hours.

Sometimes, a small, painless lump develops, but this usually disappears in a few weeks.

The MenACWY vaccine does not protect against other types of meningitis including that due to meningococcal B disease or Haemophilius influenzae b disease.

If you are looking for more information about Meningitis and Septicaemia please visit

The following information materials are available for parents of children in First Year of secondary schools.


Information booklet


Consent form

Post Vaccination Advice

The vaccine used in the school programme is called Nimenrix. It is manufactured by Pfizer. The licensed documents for each vaccines the Summary of Product Characteristcs and the Patient Information Leaflet are available here

If you have any other queries please contact the schools immunisation programme office in your area. The contact phone numbers are available here in English and Irish.


The following information materials are available for healthcare professionals carrying out this programme.

Click on the link you require to download the document

This page was updated on 15 June 2020