England will become the first country worldwide to offer meningitis jabs to all babies from September, the Department of Health has confirmed.
The new meningococcal B (MenB) vaccination programme comes after a deal between the Government and the drugs giant GlaxoSmithKline in March, the Independent reported.
Teenagers at risk from meningococcal W (MenW) will benefit from a new MenACWY vaccine available to all 17 to 18-year-olds in England from August.
The Government’s vaccine advisers, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), called for the new jab to be given to teenagers after cases of MenW in England rose from just 22 in 2009 to 117 in 2014.
All babies aged two months will be offered the MenB vaccine, with a second dose at four months and a booster at 12 months. Babies due their three- or four-month vaccinations in September can have a “catch-up programme” at a time when they are most at risk of MenB infection.
Teenagers in year 13 of school will be offered the combined MenACWY vaccine, as will students aged between 19 and 25. From spring 2016 there will be a school-based MenACWY vaccination programme to replace the existing MenC-only vaccine given to pupils in years 9 and 10.
Andrew Pollard, the chairman of the JCVI, said the new programmes were a huge step forward in controlling childhood meningitis and septicaemia.