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Meningitis vaccine

Following Public Health Wales advice we recommend that if you are under the age of 25 that you receive the Meningitis ACWY vaccination. If you haven't had the vaccine, you're entitled to receive it free of charge from your new Cardiff GP.

Meningitis can affect anyone, but it's most common in teenagers and young adults.

Meningitis is an infection of the protective membranes (meninges) that surround the brain and spinal cord. The inflammation that results from this can lead to damage of the brain and spinal cord nerves and can be life-threatening. Meningitis is usually caused by a bacteria or a virus.


Symptoms can appear in any order. Some symptoms may not appear at all. Do not wait for any of the symptoms to appear if you suspect meningitis, get medical help urgently.

Early symptoms include:

  • headache
  • fever
  • vomiting
  • muscle pain.

More serious signs and symptoms include:

  • severe headache
  • fever with cold hands and feet
  • drowsy, or difficult to wake
  • confusion and irritability
  • vomiting
  • diarrhoea
  • severe muscle pain
  • dislike of bright lights
  • pale blotchy skin
  • stiff neck
  • convulsions or seizures
  • rash of either small red/purple spots or large black/purple bruises that do not disappear when pressed.

If you are not feeling well you should contact your General Practitioner (GP) for further advice.

The 'glass test'

The meningitis rash is a rash that does not fade under pressure. You can 'glass test' the rash to see if it could be meningitis:

  • press the side of a clear glass firmly against the skin
  • even if the spots/rash fade at first, keep checking
  • fever with spots/rash that do not fade under pressure is a medical emergency.

Although it is one of the most commonly known symptoms of meningitis, not everyone will develop a rash.

Never wait for a rash and seek medical advice urgently if you suspect meningitis.

Seek medical advice

If you suspect meningitis, trust your instincts and act as quickly as possible.

Dial 999 for an ambulance.

Describe the symptoms carefully and say that you think it could be meningitis.