I became involved with the charity ten years ago when my nephew Calum who was 12, suddenly contracted Meningitis B and passed away.
Calum had awoken in the early hours of the morning on the 10th October 2007 with a severe headache, and by 6am was in an induced coma and connected to machines.
He was diagnosed with meningitis later that day. The doctors advised that there was no brain activity, and effectively Calum was brain dead from 6am that day.
As Calum’s organs were being donated, it was Friday the 12th October before our family said their final goodbyes and his machines were switched off.
Since Calum’s passing I have been actively raising awareness about the signs and symptoms of meningitis.
Calum had no rash and therefore I feel it is important for me to alert others to the fact that they don’t need to wait for a rash for it to be meningitis. If you are at all concerned for anyone who is showing signs and symptoms of meningitis, seek medical help immediately.
Recently, I have been volunteering at universities in Scotland to raise awareness of the Men ACWY vaccine amongst students.
Since the introduction of the Men ACWY vaccine two years ago, the uptake in Scotland has been excellent.
The Men ACWY vaccine is now being routinely offered to all young people who are in S3 (around the ages of 14yr) at school as part of the routine teenage immunisation programme.
However, I feel it is really important to inform people that due to the success of the Men ACWY campaign in Scotland, there is no catch-up programme (unlike other countries in the UK). This means that, students coming to Scotland to study won’t be able to get the vaccine here in Scotland from a GP.
Therefore, it is really important to book your Men ACWY vaccine at your family GP surgery, rather than waiting until you are at uni in Scotland, as there is no guarantee that the vaccine will be available at Scottish University health centres and GP practices.
If you are a student coming to Scotland to study, I urge you to speak to your GP about the vaccine and make sure you protect yourself.
Meningitis can affect anyone of any age at any-time; however16-24 year olds are one of the more at risk groups. Meningitis strikes quickly, so please make yourselves aware of the signs and symptoms and know what to look out for. Watch out for those signs - you may just save a life.
If you have any concerns about the vaccine you can contact the student welfare officer at your university, or call meningitis now on 0808 80 10 388, where we can answer any questions and concerns you may have.
Having the vaccine is important and will offer protection against four strains of meningitis. However, there are other causes of meningitis, for which this vaccine will not protect.
This is why it is important that you get to know the signs and symptoms, and protect your family, friends and yourself.