Advice from the experts

29th October 2015

We asked our team of experts for their top tips on keeping safe and protecting yourself against meningitis

Expert advice
Here's what out helpline nurse, Claire Donovan, had to say:

“From August 2015 a vaccine - which protects against meningococcal A, C, W and Y bacteria - is being offered UK-wide to all 17 to 18-year-olds, as well as all university freshers (aged 19 to 25) free on the NHS."

“This age group (teenagers and students) has been identified as they are particularly vulnerable to meningitis and septicaemia. There are a number of reasons for this, such as close contact in shared accommodation (such as halls of residence) and exposure to new bacteria as a result of students coming together from around the country, or even the world."

“In recent years there has been a rise in meningococcal W cases in young adults, leading to the introduction of the Men ACWY vaccine which protects against this strain.”

What to look out for

“Early symptoms of meningitis and septicaemia can be easily missed or mistaken for something else. For example, flu or hangovers - especially at the start of term when so many students are suffering from ‘freshers’ flu’."

“Symptoms can include sickness, fever, cold hands and feet, muscle pain, headaches, confusion, irritability, a rash and dislike of bright lights. More information can be found on the Fight for Now website."

“It’s important to remember that not everyone will get a rash when contracting meningitis, so you should always be aware of all the signs and symptoms.”

What do you need to do?

“We advise all 17 to 18-year-olds and first year uni students to make sure they go and get the vaccine when called for by their GP. It is also imperative to learn the signs and symptoms as there are still types of the disease that there is no vaccine for."

“Remember – looking out for your health should be a priority. Keep an eye on any symptoms and look out for each other - if a friend is in bed ill; make sure to check on them regularly. If you do suspect the disease, please seek urgent medical help.”

Where can I find more information?

“You can find more information about the disease and the support we offer on the Fight for Now website."

“Our new ‘Off to Uni’ campaign contains of a series of student resources - including information leaflets, signs and symptoms cards and branded wristbands, all of which can be easily downloaded or ordered from our website."

“You can also download the Meningitis Now app for help and advice on the go, or call our helpline on 0808 80 10 388.”

Claire Donovan, Registered nurse and helpline manager