The three, all of whom have their own meningitis experience, have each posted supportive videos online backing the campaign, timed to coincide with the announcement of A-level results, as thousands of young people contemplate their future and higher education.
In her message the presenter and former model Lisa Snowdon, who is a Celebrity Ambassador for us, says: “I wanted to get behind Meningitis Now and their student campaign so we can look out for our mates – see me as your mate giving you some advice, some invaluable advice.
Wearing a specially created campaign T-shirt in the video, Lisa’s message continues: “Freshers’ Week will be on us really soon. You might think that your buddy is hungover from too many Jägerbombs, too many Sambuca shots the night before, but the headaches, the vomiting, all these kinds of symptoms that are similar to a hangover can be meningitis actually.”
Own meningitis experience
Lisa recalls her own meningitis experience and the symptoms she experienced, including the worst headache for about three weeks that did not go, confusion, irritability, low energy, a low mood and a stiff neck. She did not have a rash, often associated with meningitis but not always present and often a late sign.
“You can get meningitis when you’re a bit older – it doesn’t discriminate. Kids, teenagers, adults – we can all contract meningitis,” she adds.
“So just be aware, look out for your buddies, look out for your mates, look out for each other, because I want you to stay safe and I want you to be well educated to know when to get help.”
Speaking in her post Tilly, who had meningitis at 15 months old leading to amputations of both her hands, says: “It’s such an important campaign that talks about looking after your mates, especially now when people are going to uni.”
The 16-year-old winner of last year’s CBBC competition Got What It Takes, adds: “Uni is a place where there’s a high chance you could contract something like meningitis.
“Know the meningitis symptoms so that you notice it in your mates and look out for it when you’re at uni in this brand new environment, mixing with so many new people. It’s such an incredible experience but you’ve got to be extra careful.
“I’m super excited to be supporting this campaign – it’s super important and basically all you need to do is look out for your mates.”
Look out for our friends
In her video actress/TikTok content creator Dyslexic Dayna, who had meningitis at 8 months old, adds: “I’ve teamed up with Meningitis Now to bring you their latest campaign.”
Also wearing the campaign T-shirt, she warns that “Meningitis runs rapid within the student community and we need to look out for our friends.”
You can find out more on Dyslexic Dayna’s meningitis story on her TikTok page.
Taking quick action
This latest campaign aims to raise awareness and the importance of taking quick action if meningitis is suspected. We’re concerned that the combination of new-found social freedoms, the desire of young people to mix in large groups and a move to campus-based accommodation for students, will present the ideal opportunity for infectious diseases to spread, putting young people at a higher risk of meningitis.
Our chief executive, Dr Tom Nutt, said: “We’re really grateful to Lisa, Tilly and Dayna for helping us share these important health messages for young people off to uni.
“Research has shown that up to a quarter of 15 to 24-year-olds carry the bacteria that cause meningococcal meningitis and septicaemia in the back of their throats compared to one in 10 of the general population – and we know that the number of cases is increasing in this age group.
Get up to date with vaccinations
“Whilst many young people will have been vaccinated against MenACWY, which protects against four strains of meningococcal meningitis, at school, we estimate that up to half a million under-25s may have missed this important vaccination. If that’s you – contact your GP and see if you can get up to date with your vaccinations.
“Common complaints such as a hangover and Freshers’ Flu are often given as reasons for a person not feeling too well – but we are asking young people not to simply assume this is the case. A headache and fever are also common signs of meningitis, which is why it is so important that young people should learn the signs and symptoms of the disease, look out for themselves and their mates and seek medical help straight away if they feel unwell.”
The early signs and symptoms of meningitis and septicaemia can be similar to ‘flu, tummy bug or a hangover and include fever, headache, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, muscle pain, stomach cramps and fever with cold hands and feet. More specific signs and symptoms include fever with cold hands and feet, drowsiness, confusion, pale blotchy skin, stiff neck, dislike of bright lights and a rash which doesn’t fade under pressure.
We have free information for parents and students, including leaflets, signs and symptoms cards and fridge magnets – all of which contain lifesaving information. Find out more here.