We are backing a Public Health England and NHS Scotland campaign to encourage students and school leavers who haven’t done so already to get the MenACWY vaccine as the New Year begins.
Cases of the disease are anticipated to spike during the winter months, with young adults and students 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.”
“Their immune systems can be weakened because of living in close confines and coming into close contact, the pressures of studying, lack of sleep, poor diet, partying, cold weather and flu. It’s vital that students are not complacent about the threat of meningitis.”
“We urge them to take up the vaccine, but, because there are not vaccines for all strains, they should also learn the signs and symptoms of the disease, and look out for themselves and their friends.”
Sue Davie, Meningitis Now chief executive
All teenagers aged 17 and 18 are eligible to receive the ACWY vaccine for free since August this year. Older first-time university entrants aged 19 to 25 can also claim the free vaccination, introduced to combat the rise in MenW cases in adolescents.
Symptoms can include sickness, fever, cold hands and feet, muscle pain, headaches, confusion, irritability and a dislike of bright lights. Advice from Meningitis Now is not to wait for a rash, which can be a late sign and may not appear at all. Students should seek urgent medical help if they suspect the disease.