Evolving strategies for meningococcal vaccination in Europe: Overview and key determinants for current and future considerations

Pathog Glob Health. 2022 Mar;116(2):85-98. doi: 10.1080/20477724.2021.1972663. Epub 2021 Sep 27.


Invasive meningococcal disease (IMD) is a life-threatening, unpredictable condition. Vaccines are available against 5 of the 6 meningococcal serogroups (Men) accounting for nearly all IMD cases worldwide; conjugate monovalent MenC, quadrivalent MenACWY, and protein-based MenB vaccines are commonly used. We provide a comprehensive overview of the evolution of meningococcal vaccination strategies employed in national immunization programmes (NIPs) and their impact on IMD incidence in Europe. A more in-depth description is given for several countries: the United Kingdom (UK), the Netherlands, Greece, Italy, and Ireland. We searched European health authorities' websites and PubMed. Various vaccines and immunization schedules are used in 21 NIPs. Most countries implement MenC vaccination in infants, MenACWY in adolescents, and a growing number, MenB in infants. Only Malta has introduced MenACWY vaccination in infants, and several countries reimburse immunization of toddlers. The UK, Italy, Ireland, Malta, Andorra, and San Marino recommend MenB vaccination in infants and MenACWY vaccination in adolescents, targeting the most prevalent serogroups in the most impacted age groups. Main factors determining new vaccination strategies are fluctuating IMD epidemiology, ease of vaccine implementation, ability to induce herd protection, favorable benefit-risk balance, and acceptable cost-effectiveness. Since 1999, when the UK introduced MenC vaccination, the reduction in IMD incidence has been gradually enhanced as other countries adopted routine meningococcal vaccinations. Meningococcal vaccination strategies in each country are continually adapted to regional epidemiology and national healthcare priorities. Future strategies may include broader coverage vaccines when available (e.g., MenABCWY, MenACWY), depending on prevailing epidemiology.

Keywords: Europe; Invasive meningococcal disease; MenACWY vaccination; MenB vaccination; meningococcal vaccination; national immunization programme; strategies.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Europe / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunization Programs
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Meningococcal Infections* / epidemiology
  • Meningococcal Infections* / prevention & control
  • Meningococcal Vaccines*
  • Neisseria meningitidis*
  • Vaccination
  • Vaccines, Conjugate


  • Meningococcal Vaccines
  • Vaccines, Conjugate

Grants and funding

This work was sponsored by GlaxoSmithKline Biologicals SA, which funded all costs associated with the development and the publishing of the present manuscript.