School leavers who will be 18 on 31st August are being offered the vaccine at their GP surgery for the final year of the ‘catch up’ vaccination programme. First year university students up to the age of 25 are also eligible to receive the vaccine, which will continue to be offered routinely to year 9 students in schools.
This timely reminder comes as 18 year old student of St Brendan’s College in Bristol, George Zographou, has passed away from a confirmed case of meningococcal B disease.
The meningitis B vaccine is offered as part of the infant immunisation programme, but is not available on the NHS for children born before 1 May 2015. However, the vaccine is available privately.
Although the ACWY vaccine would not have protected George from this strain of meningitis, it is really important that young people access all vaccines available to them.
Dr Tom Nutt, CEO of the UK’s largest meningitis charity Meningitis Now said: “Today our thoughts are with George's family at this difficult time."
"Sadly, meningitis is often difficult to diagnose and can develop very quickly, with devastating consequences. Protect yourself and your family by knowing the signs and symptoms, trusting your instincts, and seeking medical help immediately if you suspect meningitis.”
Paul Gentry, whose daughter Izzy died after contracting meningitis in 2016, and was also a student at St Brendan’s College said: “I know first-hand how devastating it is to lose a child to meningitis. We must do all we can as parents, to ensure that our children are protected and safe. The ACWY vaccine is one really simple way that young people can protect themselves.”
“Izzy had a bright future ahead of her, which was stolen by meningitis. Please don’t let the same happen to your children, tell them about the vaccine, tell them about Izzy – protect your children.”
Julia Styles, whose daughter Emily died after contracting meningitis in 2014 said: “We need to protect our children from this terrible disease.”
“I know first-hand the complete destruction that engulfs a family that has been devastated by meningitis, and I wouldn’t wish that on anyone.”
“Please, please, please urge your children to get the ACWY vaccine – it really could save you a lifetime of heartache.”
At Meningitis Now, we regularly hear heart-breaking stories of families who have lost loved ones to the disease – please don’t be one of them.
Encourage your children to take up the offer of a free life-saving vaccine, after all ACWY not?