Although meningitis can affect anyone at any time, there are certain bacteria that increase the risk of meningitis in teenagers and young people.
These are meningococcal A, B, C, W and Y and they can cause meningitis and septicaemia (blood poisoning), which can kill within hours. For those who survive, many are left with life-changing after-effects such as hearing loss, acquired brain injury and limb loss. Make sure you know how to protect yourself and look out for your friends.
Don't assume it's COVID-19
If you're feeling ill at university, call your GP or NHS 111 straight away. The temptation might be to think you have coronavirus, but it could be something else - including meningitis. Meningitis is a medical emergency, so it's vital you act fast and seek urgent medical assistance to make sure.
MenACWY vaccine - check it, don't chance it
The MenACWY vaccine protects against four types of meningitis and is free for eligible young people. Whilst many teenagers and young people will have had the MenACWY vaccine through the recent school and catch-up programmes, there are over one million eligible young people in the UK who have not been vaccinated.
If you're unsure whether you've had this vaccine, check with your GP right away.
Please be aware that if you live outside Scotland, but are attending university in Scotland, you need to get the MenACWY vaccine before you go. You will not automatically be able to get it from the GP surgery when you get there.
Know the signs and symptoms
The MenACWY vaccine doesn't protect against all types of meningitis, including MenB, which is the most common cause of bacterial meningitis in the UK. So, it's really important to know the signs and symptoms to look out for and to seek urgent medical advice if concerned.
The symptoms of meningitis can be easily confused with for flu, a stomach bug or a hangover. If one of your friends is ill and getting worse, call NHS 111 or your GP straight away. In an emergency dial 999 or go to your nearest A&E.
It's really important to look out for your friends. Someone with meningitis or septicaemia can get a lot worse very quickly and may not be able to get the emergency help they need themselves. If a friend is unwell, check up on them regularly.