1 in 8 new students not protected against meningitis

According to the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), around 1 in 8 (13 per cent) new students missed their MenACWY vaccine in school and are therefore unprotected against four deadly types of meningitis.

The UKHSA and several meningitis charities are urging students to make sure they have received their vaccines for meningitis and other diseases before the start of the new academic year.

The MenACWY immunisation programme for schools is offered to all pupils in year 9 and 10, however data shows that around 1 in 8 new students going to college and university this year remain unprotected against these 4 strains of meningococcal bacteria.

The data also shows that the vaccination coverage rate has fallen to 79.6%, which means that the figure will rise to around 1 in 5 pupils being unprotected when they start college or university in a few years’ time if they don’t catch up with their vaccinations.

Students are also being urged to check they are up to date with their vaccines for measles and HPV.

Dr Shamez Ladhani, consultant epidemiologist at UKHSA, said: "Every year we see new and returning students get seriously ill, with some tragically dying, from what are preventable diseases.

"With large numbers of students coming together from around the country and overseas for the first time, and closely mixing, infection can spread easily.

"Ensuring you are protected against these deadly bugs is vital. If you’ve missed out on your meningitis (MenACWY), HPV or MMR jabs then contacting your GP for the vaccine should be top of your list of urgent things to do before starting college or university."

Sharon Sandell, mother of Lauren Sandell who passed away in her first year at university after contracting MenW disease said: "Lauren was feeling unwell one Thursday evening during her first year in university. She thought it was due to stress from settling into university. She returned home on Saturday evening saying that her legs hurt, and that she wasn’t feeling 100% alright. Then on Sunday morning she got sick and was visibly shaking.

"We totally thought it was a panic attack and not at any point did I think her life was in danger. I will always be thankful that she was at home with me when she died but the experience of witnessing it will stay with me forever.

"Such a tragic unnecessary end to a life of a beautiful girl who had so much life to live. If she had the vaccine, she would still be here today celebrating her 25th year of life. Up to 10% of young people in her age group have the bacteria naturally at the back of their throat. Please don’t think it can’t be you. Get the MenACWY jab today."


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