When your child is in 1st year of second level school, they will be offered vaccination with meningococcal ACWY vaccine.
Your child will have been offered the MenC vaccine in infancy. Protection against meningococcal C disease reduces over time so 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 meningococcal C 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 meningococcal C and also meningococcal 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.
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.
||Effects of Disease
||Side Effects of the Vaccine
Meningococcal disease is a serious illness caused by the bacteria called Neisseria meningitidis. This bacterial infection can cause meningitis (in‑ammation 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
- 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
- rapid breathing
- red or purple spots that do
not fade under pressure
- diarrhoea and stomach
- a rash
- convulsions or seizures
Not everyone will develop all
the symptoms listed. But, if
your child develops some of
these symptoms, especially red or purple spots, get medical
Meningococcal disease can cause meningitis which can leave people with serious after-effects.
It can also cause septicaemia which can damage the blood vessels and reduce the flow of oxygen to the skin, underlying flesh and major organs such
as the kidneys, liver and lungs.
If 1,000 people get meningococcal disease:
- 50 will die.
- 100 people who recover from meningococcal disease will have a major disability such as
deafness, brain damage or loss of fingers, toes, hands, feet, arms or legs.
The most common side effects in teenagers and young people are:
- pain, redness or swelling in the arm where the vaccine was given
- fatigue (feeling tired)
These symptoms should last no more than 24-48 hours.
Sometimes, a small, painless lump develops, but this usually disappears in a few weeks.
If you are looking for more information about Meningitis and Septicaemia please visit https://www.meningitis.org/
The MenACWY vaccine does not protect against other types of meningitis including that due to meningococcal B disease or Haemophilius influenzae type b disease.
Giving COVID-19 vaccines with vaccines included in the schools immunisation programme
The National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) say that other vaccines can be given with COVID-19 vaccines. A gap is not needed between COVID-19 vaccines and the vaccines offered as part of the second level school vaccination programme.
If other vaccines are being given at the same time as COVID-19 vaccines, if possible they should be given in different limbs.
Name of the vaccine
The vaccine used in the school programme is called Nimenrix. It is manufactured by Pfizer. The licensed documents for each vaccine the Summary of Product Characteristics and the Patient Information Leaflet are available from the HPRA Website.
The following information materials are available for parents of children in First Year of secondary schools.
English | Irish | Arabic | French | Polish | Lithuanian | Latvian | Pashto | Albanian | Romanian | Russian | Ukrainian | Somali | Dari | Georgian | Urdu
Letter to parents and guardians
English | Irish
English | Irish | Ukrainian
Post Vaccination Advice
English | Irish | Russian | Ukrainian
If you have any other queries please contact the schools immunisation programme office in your area.
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 13 October 2023