Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital is part of world leading NHS meningitis vaccine trial for teenagers

The NHS is inviting teenagers to join the fight against meningitis by taking part in a study to see whether giving a group B meningococcal (MenB) vaccine to teenagers reduces carriage of this bacteria in their throat, potentially providing protection to all ages from this dangerous infection.

Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital (RMCH) and two other NHS Trusts (Wigan, Wrightington and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust and Stockport NHS Foundation Trust) are part of the 14 study sites running the study across the country.  Working with local schools and colleges, researchers hope to find 24,000 volunteers aged 16 to 18 years to take part in the Be on the TEAM (Teenagers Against Meningitis) trial, led by the Oxford Vaccine Group at the University of Oxford with funding and support from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR).

Bacteria in the throat can cause meningitis (inflammation of the membranes that surround the brain) and septicaemia (blood poisoning), both of which can be fatal or cause long lasting damage. The age groups most at risk of meningitis are babies, pre-school children and teenagers.

While 13 to 14-year-olds currently receive a vaccine against group A, C, W and Y meningococcus, immunisation against MenB is currently targeted at babies as they are at highest risk.

All teenagers taking part in the study will receive two doses of a MenB vaccine. They will also have two throat swabs taken 12 months apart. The research team will look to see if the vaccines reduce the numbers of students carrying the meningitis-causing bacteria in their throat.

The trial will take place in three groups using two licensed MenB vaccines, 4CMenB (Bexsero) and MenB-fHBP (Trumenba). One group of 8,000 will get 4CMenB while another 8,000 will get MenB-fHBP. The vaccines will be given at the start of the study and six months later.

A further 8,000 youngsters will act as a ‘control group’ and not get the vaccine at first, so swabs can be taken 12 months apart and results compared to those who do get the vaccine, to examine the difference. The control group will get the 4CMenB vaccine after they have had the swabs taken, so they benefit from the protection it provides.

The trial is voluntary and will be conducted through schools in at least 14 towns and cities in England, Scotland and Wales with each enrolling students to one study group. Students can give their own consent. The study will be recruiting over 18 months from April 2018.

RMCH at Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust (MFT) has a target of recruiting 1,300 students to the study. Patients will get the 4CMenB vaccine. Schools taking part include The Manchester College’s Openshaw Campus and Nicholls Campus.

Dr Stephen Hughes, Consultant Paediatric Immunologist at RMCH, said: “This is a fantastic study for the students in sixth form in Manchester and the North West. Each participant will receive two vaccine doses and have the germs in their throat checked on each visit.

The vaccination should help to protect them from Meningitis B in the years they are in college and, should they choose that path, university. In addition, the study aims to establish whether the vaccine will also reduce the spread of meningitis germs in the wider community, which may mean that babies and young children are also being protected.

Vinny Smith, Chief Executive at Meningitis Research Foundation said, “It’s fantastic news that this study is now starting. Not only will it give a number of young people the chance to be protected against MenB, we’ll also find out more about the potential to protect the whole population because this age group play a key role in the spread of the bacteria to others.”

Dr Tom Nutt, chief executive of charity Meningitis Now, said:  “This important study is a chance for young people to make a real difference to not only their own health but that of their wider community.”

We’re delighted to see this vaccine trial being rolled out and would urge everyone who can to get involved and help make a real difference in the fight against meningitis.

Any schools or colleges in Manchester that wish to take part, or would like more information, can contact the Research Department on or 0161 701 6924.