Keep young people safe

24th June 2019

Meningitis Now supporter Nick Gilbert, who collapsed in a London street with meningitis, is today helping launch our summer-long campaign to warn other young people about the dangers of the disease

Keep young people safe from meningitis campaign

Nick was hospitalised for over a week in 2018 after he fell ill following a first date. He said he was only saved because a stranger stopped and called an ambulance. He was taken to hospital and diagnosed with bacterial meningitis – a deadly disease that while rare can strike fast and indiscriminately. 

Read Nick G's story here.

Now Nick is supporting our efforts to encourage young people to take up a lifesaving vaccination to prevent them contracting the disease. Today’s launch is the start of a campaign which will later target students and their parents, as well as appealing directly to universities. 

Nick said, “I am fortunate enough to have made a good recovery from meningitis and be fully fit and healthy with no lasting damage. Others are not so lucky."

“My illness though is still a huge reminder of just how easy it is to take our health for granted. Don’t rake the risk with your child’s health and future – make sure they get their MenACWY vaccination today”.

It is estimated that up to one million young people eligible for the free vaccination against MenACWY have yet to take up the offer, leaving them vulnerable to the disease. The campaign to encourage parents to make sure their children are protected is timed to tie in with the end of GCSEs as young people move on to the next stage of their lives. 

2,000 cases each year

Meningitis is the inflammation of the membranes that surround and protect the brain and spinal cord. There are about 2,000 cases each year of bacterial meningitis. 

A MenACWY vaccine has been offered since autumn 2015 for children in school at around 14 years of age. To ensure older children also receive this vaccine, it was offered to those aged between 15 and 18-year-olds in a three year “catch-up” programme delivered through schools and GP surgeries. Teens who missed the MenACWY vaccine during the catch-up programme remain eligible for the vaccine up to the age of 25.

But with only a 40 per cent take up in the catch-up programme delivered through GP surgeries and 85 per cent in the school’s programme, many young people remain unprotected. And most young people will not have been vaccinated against the MenB strain of the disease.

Tom Nutt, our chief executive, said, “We want to promote this vaccine to the one million eligible young people who have not been vaccinated. Teenagers are the second most at risk group of contracting meningitis, after babies and toddlers."

“We’re also reminding parents and young people that they should learn the signs and symptoms of this disease, because there are not vaccines to prevent all types of meningitis."

“Know the signs and symptoms, trust your instincts and get urgent medical help if meningitis is suspected. Early diagnosis and treatment ensure the best outcomes.”

To find out more about protecting your children from meningitis please visit our special Young People pages.