Whilst any rise in cases is obviously concerning, it is important to put this rise into context: overall incidence of meningococcal disease has remained stable and MenW cases are down by 14% compared to last year.
The JCVI statement came in response to Public Health England’s release of its annual figures showing the number of cases of MenC had risen from 37 cases in 2016-2017 to 64 in 2017 -2018, with 15 of these occurring in under-1s.
In its statement, the JCVI said, “Overall cases of meningococcal disease are low across the population, primarily because of the excellent coverage with meningococcal vaccination programmes in target groups. Meningococcal disease, however, continues to have a devastating impact on children, young adults and their families. JCVI members are committed to the control of this infection to prevent the suffering of those affected by this terrible disease.”
As vaccine coverage in younger adolescents with MenACWY through the school-based programme is high, the committee said it would focus efforts on those older adolescents and young adults who were too old to receive the vaccination when the school programme started. JCVI said it believes that optimum control of MenC disease can only be achieved if vaccine coverage in older children and young adults can be improved and would work with GPs to improve this coverage.
As always, Meningitis Now would urge any eligible adolescent or young adult to check whether they have received the MenACWY vaccination, and if not to get it done. We would also urge everyone, young and old, to learn to recognise the signs and symptoms of the disease.