Ensure teenagers are vaccinated

30th July 2015

Grief-stricken mother, Michaela Bartolini, 41, is supporting Meningitis Now, by urging parents to ensure teenagers get vaccinated against the disease before heading off to university this autumn

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Alisha Bartolini was studying at Liverpool Hope University when she died of meningococcal group C (Men C) in November last year. 

Her heartbroken mother, Michaela, is sending a plea to parents to ensure teens are taking up the vaccine as part of the NHS Men ACWY vaccination programme due to commence on 1st August. 

“Alisha was a beautiful, intelligent 18-year-old girl who was loved by everyone that met her. She was far too young to be taken by this dreadful disease. No parent should have to face the death of a child; and no one could have prepared us for the news that we’d lost her. It’s every parent’s worst nightmare and has left our entire family devastated.”

“The pain we feel will never go away. I want to urge all parents to ensure their children are vaccinated, so that they never have to go through what we have.”

Michaela Bartolini

Alisha was found dead in her university halls after a Halloween-themed night out.

One in six cases of meningococcal disease occurs in 15-24 year olds.

The Department of Health announced in June that the Men ACWY vaccine will be offered to all 17 and 18-year-olds and all university freshers (aged 19-25) free on the NHS from August this year, to combat the rise in Men W cases in adolescents.

“With the increase in Men W cases among this age group, it is more important than ever for parents to ensure that their children are protected."

“In order to meet this need, we have developed a highly-focused campaign designed to reach out to parents, grandparents and legal guardians. The campaign, called ‘Off to Uni’ consists of a series of parent and student resources; including information leaflets, new signs and symptoms cards and branded wristbands, all of which can be easily downloaded or ordered from our website."

“The campaign aims to make sure that loved ones heading off to university this autumn are not complacent about meningitis and take the necessary steps to protect themselves, stay vigilant and seek immediate medical help if they suspect the disease.”

Liz Brown, Chief Executive at Meningitis Now 

Students are particularly vulnerable to meningitis due to close contact in shared accommodation, such as halls of residence, and exposure to bacteria and viruses that their bodies may not have met before. 

Early symptoms of meningitis can be mistaken as common illnesses such as flu or hangovers, especially at the start of term when so many students are suffering from ‘freshers’ flu’. 

Advice from Meningitis Now is for students to take up the vaccine and learn the signs and symptoms - looking out for themselves and others, and seeking urgent medical help if they suspect the disease.

“There are still strains without vaccines and there will still be people who are not protected by these vaccine programmes."

“It’s vital to learn the signs and symptoms, stay vigilant and seek immediate medical help if you suspect the disease.”

Liz Brown, Chief Executive at Meningitis Now 

For More information, please see our Q and A

Find out more about meningitis Signs and symptoms

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