Two new meningitis vaccination programmes have been launched in England, making it the first country in the world to begin a nationally funded MenB immunisation programme.
The two programmes will cover young adults during the final year of school and babies aged two months old.
From August 2015 all 17 and 18 year olds in school year 13 will be offered a combined vaccine that protects against the A,C,W and Y strains of the meningococcal disease. The vaccine will also be available to older students aged 19 to 25 who are starting university this year.
From spring 2016 there will be a school-based vaccination programme for MenACWY, which will replace the MenC-only vaccine that is currently offered to children in school years 9 and 10. A catch up programme will also be available for students in Year 11 (aged 15-16).
From September 2015, babies aged two months will be offered the MenB vaccine which protects against the MenB disease, followed by a second dose at four months and a booster at 12 months. There will also be a limited catch-up programme for infants who are due their three and four month vaccinations in September, to protect them when they are most at risk.
Sue Davie, the chief executive of Meningitis Now, said: 'We're delighted that yet another milestone in the journey to introduce these vaccines and protect our newborn babies and young people from the devastation meningitis causes has been reached – these measures will start to save lives straight away and for years to come.'
GP practices will offer the vaccine alongside other routine infant vaccines. For the MenACWY vaccine, practices will invite eligible young people to come for vaccination.
Health minister Jane Ellison, said: 'I am very proud that we will be able to offer families extra peace of mind with these new vaccination programmes from this summer. The nationwide MenB programme will mean that England leads the world in offering children protection from this devastating disease.'
Both of the programmes were developed by Public Health England, NHS England and NHS Employers.
The Department of Health has released guidance for healthcare professionals for both immunisation programmes.