Invasive meningococcal disease in England and Wales: implications for the introduction of new vaccines

Vaccine. 2012 May 21;30(24):3710-6. doi: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2012.03.011. Epub 2012 Mar 17.


A number of meningococcal vaccines have either been recently licensed or are in late-phase clinical trials. To inform national vaccination policy, it is important to define the burden of disease and the potential impact of any new vaccine. This study describes the epidemiology of invasive meningococcal disease across all age groups in England and Wales for recent epidemiological years between 2006 and 2010. The Health Protection Agency (HPA) conducts enhanced national meningococcal surveillance through a combination of clinical and laboratory reporting. Between 2006/07 and 2010/11, the average annual incidence of invasive meningococcal disease across all age groups was 2.0/100,000. Capsular group B (MenB) accounted for 87% (4777/5471) cases, with an overall incidence of 1.8/100,000. The highest MenB incidence observed among infants (36.2/100,000) where cases increased from birth to 5 months of age then gradually declined. An annual average of 245 MenB cases occurred in infants (135 in those aged ≤ 6 months) representing 26% (and 14%) of all MenB cases, respectively. After infancy, MenB rates declined until the age of 12 years, rising to a second smaller peak at 18 years. MenB case fatality ratio (CFR) was 5.2% (247/4777 cases) overall and was highest among ≥ 65 year-olds (28/161; 17.4%). The largest number of deaths (n=125), however, occurred among <5 year-olds. Clonal complexes cc269 and cc41/44 each accounted for around a third of cases across the age groups. Other capsular groups rarely caused invasive disease, although capsular group Y (MenY) cases more than doubled from 35 in 2006/07 to 86 in 2010/11. Thus, universal meningococcal vaccination with an effective broad-spectrum formulation has potential to prevent most disease, particularly if the vaccine is immunogenic early in infancy, but, there is currently little justification for routine quadrivalent ACWY conjugate vaccination in the UK, although the increase in MenY disease warrants continued surveillance.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • England / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Meningococcal Infections / epidemiology*
  • Meningococcal Infections / microbiology*
  • Meningococcal Infections / mortality
  • Meningococcal Vaccines / administration & dosage*
  • Middle Aged
  • Molecular Typing
  • Mortality
  • Neisseria meningitidis / classification*
  • Neisseria meningitidis / isolation & purification*
  • Serotyping
  • Wales / epidemiology
  • Young Adult


  • Meningococcal Vaccines