The NHS wants 24,000 to take part in the Oxford Vaccine Group’s Be On The Team trial, which is helped by National Institute for Health Research funding.
Bacteria at the back of the throat can cause meningitis and the study will see if vaccination can stop this happening.The trial will take place in four waves of recruitment over the next two years.
Each of the teenagers who chooses to participate, in Year 12 in England or the equivalent in Scotland and Wales, will be put into one of three groups of 8,000 participants and will receive two doses of one of two vaccines.
Two of these groups will be in the programme for a year, with the third, which will act as a control group, taking part for 18 months.
The recruitment started this week and is planned to work around school holidays and exams, taking place in March-April and September-October this year and in 2019.
Meningitis B facts♦ Meningitis B is a bacterial infection that most often affects children below the age of one
♦ It is the most common form of the condition in the UK
♦ Since 2015, children under 12 months have been offered the vaccination
♦ There are about 1,200 meningitis B cases each year in the UK
♦ With early diagnosis and antibiotic treatment, most people will make a full recovery
♦ It is fatal in one in 10 cases
♦ About one in four of those who survive is left with long-term problems, such as amputation, deafness, epilepsy and learning difficulties
Dr Matthew Snape, a consultant paediatrician at the Oxford Vaccine Group, told the BBC: “We’ve had great enthusiasm from the schools we have approached, with the majority of Year 12 students interested in taking part.
“The peak of carriage for the bacteria is from the teenage years through to young adulthood - there is a lot of carriage with university students.
“We are doing the study to help us understand whether an immunisation campaign in teenagers would help us to protect the whole community.”
Image copyright Just Giving
Image caption Faye Burdett was taken to an accident and emergency unit with a rash on her forehead but died days later
Dr Snape said the study’s findings would be passed on to policymakers “to inform any future decisions about adolescent meningococcal immunisation”. And there have already been calls for a wider meningitis B immunisation programme.