Childhood Vaccination with Meningitis C, Hib and Pneumococcal vaccines has caused a large drop in the number of children affected by Meningitis. THis means that Meningitis B is now the most common cause of Bacterial Meningitis in the UK and Ireland making up 90% of causes. It affects 5 in 100,000 children in the 1-4 age group but is less common in children over 5 years. It occurs most commonly in Winter and early Spring.
There is a vaccine available to protect against Meningitis B called Bexsero. It has been given as part of the national HSE immunisation programme for all children born since 01/10/2016. For children born before this date it can be purchased privately.
The schedule ranges from 2-3 doses as a primary course with a possible booster depending on the age of the child.
Signs and symptoms of meningitis
Anyone can get meningitis, but babies and young children under five years of age are most at risk. A baby or young child with meningitis may:
- have a high fever, with cold hands and feet
- vomit and refuse to feed
- feel agitated and not want to be picked up
- become drowsy, floppy and unresponsive
- grunt or breathe rapidly
- have an unusual high-pitched or moaning cry
- have pale, blotchy skin, and a red rash that doesn’t fade when a glass is rolled over it
- have a tense, bulging soft spot on their head (fontanelle)
- have a stiff neck and dislike bright lights
- have convulsions or seizures
Should parents be concerned about the possibility of meningitis in their child they should seek medical attention without delay.
Further information on Meningococcal infection available at HSE.ie, NHS choices UK, Meningitis Research Foundation.