What is it?

It is important that your child is vaccinated. The vaccinations not only protect your child but also your family and the people around you. In addition to the classic vaccination schedule run by Child and Family, a number of other vaccinations are strongly recommended, including this one against meningococcal group B.

These meningococcal group B bacteria are responsible for:

  • meningococcal infections that are limited to one location (e.g. conjunctiva, throat, lungs, joints,
    pericardium, urethra)
  • meningococcal bacteraemia (brief, harmless presence of bacteria in the blood)
  • meningitis
  • sepsis (blood poisoning)
  • meningitis with sepsis

The last three occur approximately in one in 100,000 people in Belgium, and carry a risk of death. Patients who survive have a 10 to 20% risk of permanent brain damage:

  • brain infarction
  • epilepsy
  • learning difficulties
  • behavioural difficulties
  • hearing loss
  • amputation

Advice of the Belgian Health Council

The vaccine against meningococcal B has been proven to be effective in children under 2 years and does not cause any serious side effects.

  • At this point in time, it is not recommended to include it in the basic vaccination schedule because:
    • The first administration is best done at the age of 2 months. This would mean administering three injections with a higher risk of fever; it is feared that the vaccination rate for other diseases will decrease.
    • Cost efficiency of the vaccine is low (it is expensive, the illness is rare and the vaccine does not affect herd immunity).
  • If you want to protect yourself, then vaccination is possible from the age of 2 months. The council recommends vaccination of, preferably, children and adolescents. The bacterium/illness is most prevalent in the 0-5 and 15-19 age groups.
  • Vaccination is recommended for all people (regardless of age) with weakened immunity, since they are at higher risk of meningococcal infection.

Possible side effects

The side effect profile is equal to the vaccines that are administered by Child and Family. Below are the most common side effects for children under two years of age (these reactions may be stronger if the vaccine is administered in combination with the regular vaccines):

RareCommonSometimes
Sudden inflammation of the blood vessel wall
  • Redness and/or sensitivity of the injection site
  • Irritability and fever
Fits, eczema, hives (skin rash), high fever (higher than 40°C)

The side effects are less severe if you administer paracetamol just before the vaccinations. After vaccination, administer another two doses of paracetamol at four to six-hour intervals.

In adolescents the main side effects are headache, sore muscles, feeling unwell in general (malaise), pain at the injection site.

Price (price from 1 September 2019)

  • €86.52 euro per administered vaccine.
  • If started at age 2, a total of three doses are required.
  • If started after age 2, a total of two doses are required.
  • Ask your health insurance about the portion of the price that they reimburse.

Centres and specialist areas

Paediatrics

Latest publication date: 05/02/2021
Supervising author: Dr Degraeuwe Jelle