A seasonal increase in meningitis has prompted a call to all students to protect themselves by having the latest vaccine. The MenACWY vaccine offers strong protection against contracting meningococcal disease which can lead to meningitis (inflammation of the lining of the brain) and septicaemia (blood poisoning) – which are anticipated to rise in the winter months.
Public Health England (PHE) figures show that cases of meningococcal disease peak each year during winter – December through to March. All teenagers aged 18 and 19 (born between 01 Sep 1996 and 31 Aug 1997) are eligible to receive the vaccine for free regardless of whether they’re studying or pursuing other activities.
Public Health Consultant, Marie Mcloughlin, from the local office of NHS England – South (Wessex) said; “The meningococcal infection spreads through close persistent contact with people who unknowingly carry the bacteria. We are urging all students to take-up the vaccine during their university break – before GP surgeries close for Christmas – and before they return to university and halls of residence; where they are often in close contact with fellow students”.
Meningococcal bacteria can cause meningitis and septicaemia (blood poisoning). Both diseases are very serious and can kill, especially if not diagnosed early. NHS England is supporting PHE’s call for students to get vaccinated following the introduction of the new MenACWY vaccination programme in August, which offers teenagers protection against four common meningococcal strains. The MenACWY vaccine was introduced this year in response to a rapid increase in cases of a highly aggressive strain of group W meningococcal disease. Cases of MenACWY have been increasing year-on-year, from 22 cases in 2009/10 to 176 in 2014/15. It is currently responsible for around a quarter of all laboratory-confirmed meningococcal cases in England.