Is the MenC Vaccination Safe?

The meningococcal C vaccine has proven an extremely effective method of protecting the public against a class of bacteria that cause a potentially life threatening acute disease. Meningitis strikes quickly, often with fairly non-specific symptoms, and can quickly escalate to a point where the infection poses a serious risk of either death or lifelong disability. Because of the severity of the disease, preventative measures have been a major area of interest, and since the introduction of the MenC vaccine in 1999 incidences of the infection in the UK have dropped by 99%. This article looks at the safety of the vaccine and its side effects.

How safe is the jab?

The MenC injection has proven to be an extremely well tolerated vaccine amongst all age groups with minimal side effects. This was shown to be the case in safety studies performed prior to the release of the vaccine, and has been supported by regular monitoring since the release of the vaccine through the MHRA scheme. Like all vaccines in the UK, regular monitoring is a priority which ensures that any and all adverse effects are recorded and reported.

MenC is a conjugate vaccine, which means that it is constructed using parts of the unique bacterial coating found on meningococcal C bacteria. The components used are called antigens, and these are bound to other proteins to form complexes called conjugates which are extremely effective when it comes to inducing an immune response. These conjugates are also extremely safe, inducing immunity without posing any risk of meningitis. This technology is key to the safety of the vaccine, and means that it can be safely delivered to people from vulnerable groups who would not be able to safely receive some other types of vaccine.

What are the potential side effects of MenC vaccination?

Side effects of the meningitis C vaccine have proven to be extremely rare, and in the majority of cases the only side effect observed has been some swelling and reddening around the site of injection.

That being said other side effects have been observed, and it is not unusual for recipients to experience a mild fever, some stomach upset leading to vomiting, irritability, and headaches. Infants receiving the vaccine can cry with increased frequency for a few days after vaccination, and can often experience drowsiness. Again all of these side effects are usually very mild, and if you are concerned about their severity you should always speak to your doctor about your concerns.

The vaccine has been safely administered to young children with medical complications like congenital heart disease, eczema and epilepsy. This is an important point because it means that the vaccine can be safely administered to children vulnerable to infections like meningitis.

In very rare instances children can experience an allergic reaction to the MenC injection. In these cases the reaction is little more than an itchy rash, however very rarely a more severe reaction can occur. These are dubbed anaphylactic reactions and usually take place within minutes of the injection. Anaphylaxis involves breathing difficulties and collapse, but is fortunately easy to treat, and medical staff are trained to notice any signs of anaphylaxis and deliver the necessary treatment quickly and effectively.

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