Hopp til innhold

Get alerts of updates about «Young people and vaccine against meningococcal disease»

How often would you like to receive alerts from fhi.no? (This affects all your alerts)
Do you also want alerts about:

The email address you register will only be used to send you these alerts. You can cancel your alerts and delete your email address at any time by following the link in the alerts you receive.
Read more about the privacy policy for fhi.no

You have subscribed to alerts about:

  • Young people and vaccine against meningococcal disease


Young people and vaccine against meningococcal disease

The Norwegian Institute of Public Health recommends that young people aged 16-19 should consider vaccination against meningococcal disease (infectious meningitis).

Ungdom meningokokkvaksinasjon.
Ungdom meningokokkvaksinasjon.

The Norwegian Institute of Public Health recommends that young people aged 16-19 should consider vaccination against meningococcal disease (infectious meningitis).

There are few cases of meningococcal disease in Norway, but young people aged 16–19 years have a somewhat higher risk of infection compared to the rest of the population. A combination of close contact with others over several days, partying, high alcohol intake, sharing bottles and cigarettes, active or passive smoking and little sleep can increase the risk of infection, and of a severe disease course. In Norway, this often applies around graduation (Russ) celebrations, but also at festivals, sports gatherings, and youth camps. The recommendation also applies to younger and older young people who also take part.

Incidence among young people

Healthy young people often carry meningococci in their throats more often than others. Few young people become ill, but they can transmit to others. The disease often progresses rapidly, and around 10 % of those who develop the disease die.

In the last five years before the corona pandemic, between one and five cases of meningococcal disease were reported annually in this age group. In 2022, one case was reported.

About the vaccine

There are two different types of vaccines. The combination vaccine against meningococcal serogroups A, C, W and Y (Menveo or Nimenrix) protects against all these four groups of meningococcal bacteria. A vaccine against meningococcal serogroup B (Bexsero or Trumenba) is also available. Both types of vaccine are needed to protect against all the serogroups circulating in Norway (C, W, Y and B).

In recent years, serogroup Y has accounted for most cases of illness among young people, although there have been a few cases of serogroup W and C. In the last eight years, there have been no cases caused by serogroup B among young people aged 16-19 in Norway, although serogroup B circulates in other age groups in the population.

The incidence of meningococcal disease caused by the serogroups included in the ACWY conjugate vaccine is higher than the incidence of disease caused by meningococcal B among youths in the 16–19-year age group. Based on current epidemiology, the ACWY conjugate vaccine will provide the widest coverage in this age group. Therefore, this vaccine that is primarily recommended. Changes in the situation can be difficult to predict, but the Norwegian Institute of Public Health is closely monitoring developments and may change the recommendation.

The incidence of the serogroups may differ in other countries. Some countries and educational institutions may require, or strongly recommend, vaccination against meningococcal disease; either the ACWY conjugate vaccine or meningococcal B vaccine, or both the vaccines. It is important to check any requirements and recommendations about vaccination for Norwegian students and school pupils who will study abroad.

Availability of the products can vary.

Vaccinate in good time

Vaccination should be carried out in good time before the graduation celebrations, or similar activities, begin. The protection lasts for approximately 5 years (approximately 10 years for Nimenrix), and vaccination at the beginning of upper secondary school will provide protection during the Russ period and when travelling later in adolescence.

Vaccination against meningococcus A, C, W and Y consists of one dose. Vaccination against meningococcus B consists of two doses at least 1 or 6 months apart, depending on the vaccine used. After vaccination, it takes approximately two weeks before the vaccine provides protection. Some municipalities and counties offer free vaccination of youth groups. Otherwise, the vaccine must be paid for by the individual, as with other vaccines that are not included in the Childhood Immunisation Programme. The vaccine can be given by a GP, at a vaccination clinic, or via the school health service in municipalities that offer this.

Other preventive measures

Follow this advice to reduce the risk of transmission:

  • Avoid droplet infection, do not drink from the same bottle/can/glass as others and do not share cigarettes.
  • Remember that sore mucous membranes are more susceptible to infections. Take care of your voice and throat. Avoid smoking (both active and passive).
  • Catch up on your sleep, your body needs rest.
  • Avoid too much alcohol. When you are intoxicated, your judgment will be impaired, and symptoms of meningococcal disease could be mistaken for being drunk.
  • Seek medical attention if you suspect a friend may be ill. Take care of them if they are drowsy (reduced consciousness) or have a fever.