This is not an easy task, after all, who wants to hear about potential death and disease at a time when they’re embarking on one of the most exciting chapters in their life?
Despite the difficulties we face in reaching students, we continue to try - in the hope that our messages get through to young people, and maybe even save a life.
So, what’s it all about, what do we want students to be aware of?
Firstly, we want students to know that they are the second most at-risk group for contracting meningitis and septicaemia. First year university students are at particular risk as they mix closely with lots of new people, living in more cramped housing or halls of residence with students who may carry the meningococcal bacteria without knowing.
With this in mind, there are three main messages we want to shout about this week.
Did you know that there is a free vaccine available to protect students from four different strains of meningitis?
The Men ACWY vaccine is available for anyone aged up to 25 who was born on or after 1st September 1996. To get the vaccine students simply need to call their GP surgery and book an appointment for the jab.
The Men ACWY vaccine is now available in schools for young people aged 14, as part of their routine immunisation programme. This means that future generations of uni students will already be protected.
Vaccines remain by far the best way to protect against meningitis, for both individuals and their circle of friends.
There aren’t vaccines available for all strains of meningitis, so it’s really important to know that even if students get vaccinated, they are still at risk. Therefore, learning the signs and symptoms of the disease is the next best way they can protect themselves and their friends.
The signs and symptoms of meningitis include; severe headache, dislike of bright lights, stiff neck, vomiting, muscle pain, drowsiness, confusion and a rash. It’s important to point out that these symptoms can appear in any order, and some may not be present at all.
You can also watch our ‘House of Meningitis’ animation, which was created with input and ideas from two of our Young Ambassadors. The film focuses on a student party house like no other, where meningitis symptoms live together. The weirdly-wonderful film and characters make the list of symptoms sharable and engaging, without being frightening or alarming. Watch the film here.
Arming yourself with vaccines and learning the signs and symptoms are the best ways students can protect themselves against meningitis.
Being knowledgeable and aware of meningitis will help to ensure that students can enjoy their time at university.
So, this Student Awareness Week, book your vaccine and learn about the signs and symptoms of meningitis.
Get vaccinated, get educated, get protected.