Meningococcal disease

SKAI Meningococcal disease prevalence chart

What are the side effects of the Hib-MenC vaccine?

Common side effects 

  • About 10 per cent of children who have the vaccine have swelling, redness or pain at the injection site that lasts one or two days. 
  • About 10 per cent develop a mild fever or headache.
  • About 10 per cent are irritable and lose their appetite for a short time.


What are the symptoms of meningococcal disease?

Usual symptoms

  • People with meningococcal disease get a sudden fever (high temperature), a headache, stiff neck, eyes that hurt in the light, altered consciousness (confusion or drowsiness), muscle aches, cold hands, thirst, joint pain, nausea and vomiting. 
  • People with meningococcal disease often, but not always, have a red or purple rash that can look like bruises, broken blood vessels or lace, and doesn’t fade when you press the side of a glass on it.
  • There are several types of meningococcal disease. The most common are meningitis (brain infection) and septicaemia (blood infection). These are also the most serious.
  • Meningoccocal disease can also affect the lungs (pneumonia), joints (arthritis) and eyes (conjunctivitis, also called pink-eye).
  • Many people carry meningococcus bacteria (germs) at the back of their noses and throats without knowing it. It doesn’t make them sick, but they can spread it to other people.

Less common symptoms

  • Between 10 and 30 per cent of those who survive meningococcal meningitis or septicaemia have fingers, toes, arms or legs amputated (cut off) or are permanently deaf or brain damaged.
  • Between 5 and 10 per cent of people who get meningococcal meningitis or septicaemia die, even though they are given antibiotics.

REFERENCES / How vaccination has impacted the prevalence of meningococcal disease

Chiu C, Dey A, Wang H, et al. Vaccine Preventable Diseases in Australia, 2005 to 2007, Communicable Diseases Intelligence Volume 34 Supplement December 2010: S1-167.

Updated with data from NNDSS Annual Report Writing Group. Australia’s Notifiable Disease Status, 2010: Annual Report of the National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System. Communicable Diseases Intelligence Volume 36 March 2012: 36:1-69.

Video Explainers

What Will Happen When We Get There?

1:35 mins

How Can I Make Things Easier For My Child?

2:04 mins