Students risking life by ignoring meningitis vaccine

7th January 2016

We’ve renewed our call for students to take action to protect themselves from deadly meningitis this winter, as figures for England suggest that less than half of those eligible to receive the free ACWY vaccine have yet to do so

ACWY letterbox
With take up anticipated to be similar across all countries of the UK this means that up to 250,000 students out of this year’s intake of half a million could be putting their lives at risk. 

All teenagers aged 17 and 18 are eligible to receive the ACWY vaccine for free since August last year. Older first-time university entrants aged 19 to 25 can also claim the free vaccination, introduced to combat the rise in Men W cases in adolescents.

Cases of bacterial meningitis can spike during the winter months and students are particularly susceptible. Teenagers are the second most at risk group of contracting meningitis after babies and toddlers.

“Up to a quarter of students carry the bacteria that can cause meningitis compared to one in ten of the general population."

“Over 12 per cent of all cases occur in the 14 to 24 age group, with first year students being at particular risk."

“It’s vital that students are not complacent about the threat of meningitis - we urge them to take up this lifesaving vaccine.”

Sue Davie, Meningitis Now Chief Executive

The call has been backed by our Young Ambassador and University of Portsmouth student Louise Poole, who contracted meningitis in 2007 and had the ACWY vaccine in August last year.

Having meningitis sucks

“I needed absolutely no encouragement to get this vaccination. Anything to prevent this disease is worth doing."

“Students should ask themselves ‘do you want to die?’ If the answer is ‘no’, then get the vaccine."

“For me this is huge, because honestly, having meningitis sucks.”

Louise Poole, Young Ambassador

There are not vaccines for all strains of meningitis and our advice for students remains, as well as taking up the vaccination, to learn the signs and symptoms of the disease, and look out for yourselves and your friends.

Meningitis symptoms can include sickness, fever, fever with cold hands and feet, muscle pain, headaches, confusion, irritability, dislike of bright lights and a rash that doesn’t fade under pressure. Students should seek urgent medical help if they suspect the disease.

There’s more on ACWY here
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