[C]umbria County Council and Public Health England are reminding young people going to college or university to get vaccinated against meningitis and septicaemia (blood poisoning) due to the MenW bug, one of the most aggressive and deadly strains of Meningitis. Cases of MenW have been increasing year-on-year, from 22 cases in 2009 to nearly 200 cases in the past 12 months.
Young people going on to university or college are particularly at risk of meningitis and septicaemia because they mix with so many other students, some of whom are unknowingly carrying the bacteria. But anyone in this age group is strongly advised to get the vaccination – whether starting college or not.
Councillor Ian Stewart, Cabinet Member for Public Health, said: “Protecting young people from this potentially deadly disease as they embark upon one of the most important periods of their lives is vital. This vaccination will save lives and prevent lifelong devastating disability. We are encouraging all eligible 17 and 18 year-olds who have just left school to get vaccinated – particularly those heading to college or university. Young people and those around them should be alert to the signs and symptoms of meningitis and septicaemia.”
Ideally young people should get vaccinated before term starts to ensure immunity. But anyone can still get the jab from their new GP in their college town.
The disease can develop suddenly and progress rapidly. Early symptoms include headache, vomiting, muscle pain, fever, and cold hands and feet. Students should be alert to the signs and symptoms and should not wait for a rash to develop before seeking medical attention urgently. Students are also encouraged to look out for their friends, particularly if they are feeling unwell.
The vaccine not only protects those who are vaccinated, but also helps control the spread of the disease amongst the wider population. This is the second year the vaccine is being offered to this age group.