Meningococcal disease is a very serious infectious disease that can cause meningitis or blood poisoning. Children are immunised against meningococcal serogroup C at 14 months. Since 2015, however, there has been an increase in meningococcal serogroup W. New vaccines have also become available against meningococcal serogroup B. Because of these developments, the Health Council of the Netherlands is looking at whether and how the immunisation programme against meningococcal disease should be adapted.

There are various meningococcal serogroups. In the Netherlands, people are mainly ill from meningococcal serogroups B, C, W and Y. Children have been vaccinated through the National Immunisation Programme for meningococcal serogroup C since 2002. As a result, meningococcal serogroup C has virtually disappeared. Vaccinations against meningococcal serogroup B have also recently become available. Multi-component vaccines are also available against meningococcal serogroups A, C, W and Y.

Background information

Based on these developments, the Health Council will advise the Minister of Health, Welfare and Sport on whether and how the current immunisation programme against meningococcal disease should be adapted. To this end, RIVM has collected background information and recent data on meningococcal disease in the Netherlands. It includes the total number of people in the Netherlands who become ill each year, the efficacy and safety of the vaccines, and what the public thinks about vaccination against meningococcal disease.

Meningococcal disease

An infection with meningococcal bacteria can cause a severe medical condition such as meningitis or blood poisoning. It often begins with flu-like symptoms and fever, which subsequently worsen very rapidly and develop into shock, frequently causing death. There are currently 100 to 150 patients a year. Five to ten percent of these patients die despite antibiotics and intensive care. Thirty percent of the patients are left with lifelong impairments such as hearing loss, limb amputation or epilepsy. Meningococcal disease is most common in children under the age of 5, adolescents and the elderly.