Students – are you vaccinated against deadly meningitis and septicaemia? It’s not too late…

As the new university term begins, hundreds of thousands of students are being reminded that they should now be vaccinated against deadly meningitis and septicaemia.  

But it’s not too late for anyone who remains un-vaccinated– register with a new GP now if you’ve relocated, and request the free NHS vaccine if you’re entitled to it.

Those born between 1 September 1998 and 31 August 1999 should have taken up the vaccine, along with any new entrants to higher education (university freshers) and anyone who was eligible for the vaccine (introduced in 2015) in previous years but missed vaccination (up to their 25th birthday).

The MenACWY jab protects against four strains of meningococcal disease which cause meningitis and septicaemia, known as strains A, C, W and Y. MenW is one of the most aggressive and life threatening forms and meningococcal disease can be fatal. Many survivors are left with life changing disabilities, including brain damage and loss of limbs. The MenACWY vaccine remains the best form of protection against the A, C, W, and Y strains with a 100% effectiveness rate in those that have been vaccinated so far.

Dr Mary Ramsay, Head of Immunisation at PHE said:”The MenACWY vaccination programme will save lives and prevent lifelong and devastating disability. We have seen a rapid increase in Men W cases across England in recent years and vaccination is the most effective way of protecting against infection.

“Young people are particularly at risk as they are carriers of the disease. Being in confined environments with close contact, such as university halls, hostels when travelling, or attending festivals, increase the chances of infection if unprotected.”Get vaccinated as soon as possible, remain vigilant and seek urgent medical help if you have concerns for yourself or friends.

“While the vaccine also helps protect against Men A, C, W and Y, it does not cover all forms of meningococcal disease. It is therefore important for young people to be vigilant in spotting early symptoms and to seek early medical assistance if they are concerned.”

Not everyone will develop these symptoms and they can appear in any order but common symptoms may include: pale, blotchy skin with or without a rash, irritability and/or confusion, severe headache, joint or muscle pains, dislike of bright lights, stiff neck, convulsions/seizures, fever, cold hands and feet, vomiting and/or diarrhoea, drowsiness or difficult to wake up.

Dr Tom Nutt, Chief Executive at the charity Meningitis Now, said: “It’s vital that young people and their parents are not complacent about the threat of meningitis, and we urge all those eligible for this lifesaving vaccination to arrange to get it today. Meningitis can be a devastating disease, killing one in ten and leaving a third of survivors with lifelong after-effects such as hearing loss, epilepsy, limb loss or learning difficulties. “