Meningitis immunisation alert to homecoming students

Students are urged to protect themselves from a deadly disease this winter.

The charity Meningitis Now is backing a campaign to encourage students who haven’t done so already to get the Men ACWY vaccine while they’re at home over the festive period.

Cases of the disease are anticipated to spike during the winter months and young people are particularly susceptible.

Teenagers are the second most at risk group of contracting meningitis after babies and toddlers.

Sue Davie, Meningitis Now chief executive, said: “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.”

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 Men W cases in adolescents.

“It’s vital that students are not complacent about the threat of meningitis,” Sue added.

“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.”

For further information visit the Fight for Now site at www.meningitisnow.org/fight-for-now

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.

For further information visit the Fight for Now site at www.meningitisnow.org/fight-for-now

Meningitis Now exists to save lives and rebuild futures through research, awareness and support. To request its free signs and symptoms card or download a free app visit the website www.meningitis.now.org or call the charity’s Freephone Helpline on 0808 80 10 388.