A Wirral GP and local councillors is urging students heading to university in September to sort their vaccinations ahead of Freshers’ Week to protect themselves against a range of life-threatening illnesses.
Councillor Ivan Camphor (Conservative, Pensby & Thingwall) said: “At the top of any list of essential to sort for the start of the term, should be up to date and potentially lifesaving vaccines. If a student, or mum or dad are unsure, they need to check with their GP.
“We know that colleges and universities can be hotspots for the spread of diseases such as meningitis and measles. First year or returning students can be at increased risk of serious diseases such as meningitis, septicaemia and measles as they mix with large numbers of other students from around the country and overseas.”
“All students need to be aware of the signs and symptoms of meningitis and septicaemia. Don’t assume it’s just a hangover or freshers’ flu. These diseases can progress rapidly so urgent action in getting medical attention is critical.”
The three vaccines students should get up to date with are:
- MenACWY – protecting against 4 common strains causing meningitis and septicaemia
- MMR – protecting against measles, mumps, rubella
- HPV (for female students) – protecting against cervical and other cancers caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV).
The MenACWY vaccine is routinely offered to those in school years 9 and 10 but some students will have missed out. Anyone who has missed out can still get a free jab with their GP until their 25th birthday.
The vaccine provides high protection against four common strains that cause meningococcal disease (meningitis and septicaemia) – MenA, MenC, MenW and MenY – but does not protect against all strains, like MenB.
The UK began offering routine vaccination against MenB to infants in 2015, but teenagers and current university students will not have received this vaccine so it is important they are aware of the signs and symptoms of meningitis and septicaemia so they can urgently seek medical care if needed.
Meningitis Now chief executive, Dr Tom Nutt, added: “It’s vital that young people take up the opportunity to get vaccinated against MenACWY while at school. In addition, very few young people will have been vaccinated against MenB, which is the strain that causes the most cases of bacterial meningitis in the UK.
“Although many young people will have been vaccinated against MenACWY at school, our estimates show that up to half a million under-25s may have missed this important vaccination. If that’s you, contact your GP and see if you can get up to date with your vaccinations. This is particularly important if you are going on to higher education and university halls of residence. You can find out more information about the signs and symptoms of meningitis at www.meningitisnow.org