Protect your customers from meningitis

Meningitis is an infection of the membranes around the brain and spinal cord, and can affect people of all ages but is especially prevalent among 15-19 year olds. If left untreated, symptoms can very quickly become fatal, and it is vital to be aware of the early indicators of the bacteria and what steps to take next.

There are many different causes of meningitis, but the two most common organisms are viruses and bacteria. Meningococcal bacteria, the most common cause of bacterial meningitis in the UK, can be divided into several groups. The groups that most commonly cause the disease are A, B, C, W and Y.

1 in 4 adolescents carry the meningococcal bacteria typically associated with the disease, however not all carriers will develop the illness and in the majority of cases the bacteria is likely to boost natural immunity1. The prevalence among young people can however cause the disease to spread rapidly in mass social gatherings, with students embarking on their first year of university carrying an increased risk. The increased level of social interaction during ‘Freshers’ Week’ each year can lead to a spike in transmission of the meningococcal bacteria, in a similar manner to that of ‘Freshers’ Flu’ which affects thousands of new students every year.


Given the restrictions that we have faced over the past 12 months, we can almost undoubtedly anticipate a spike in travellers readying themselves to go abroad at the earliest available opportunity. Those hoping to travel to areas with a high risk of meningitis are strongly encouraged to look into the requirements with regards to vaccinations prior to planning and booking their trip, and advice and guidance on this will be included within your Travel Health service.


Symptoms for meningitis are often similar to that of the flu or the common cold, which can make it easy to mistake the disease for ‘Freshers’ Flu’. It is crucial that symptoms are recognised and treated as early as possible, as meningitis or septicaemia can be deadly if signs are ignored.

Community pharmacy is ideally located to help protect their community against meningitis by either raising awareness of the importance of getting the free NHS vaccination if eligible or offering a private Meningitis vaccination service.

Numark have developed a range of resources to support members to offer a successful Meningitis B or Meningitis ACWY Vaccination Service including

  • Service Support Pack
  • GP implementation letter
  • Mosque implementation letter
  • Vaccination SOP
  • Training Modules

And partnered with PharmaDoctor to provide support via their FREE Meningitis ACWY and Meningitis B eTool with integrated PGD.  Running a service using the PharmaDoctor eTool takes away all of the complication.  The eTool screening process involves the automated cross reference of the customer’s medical history against the eligibility criteria of the PGD and the SPC of the recommended vaccinations, ensuring the right vaccine is administered and only when it is safe to do so.

For more information visit the Meningitis Vaccination Service page on