Herefordshire teenagers going to college and university this year are being offered protection against four different causes of meningitis and septicaemia – meningococcal (Men) A, C, W, Y.
Since 2009 there has been a steep rise in MenW cases in the country and experts say this group is particularly vulnerable with the Meningitis W strain which has a higher death rate than other strains of the disease.
GPs across the county are therefore urging all teenagers of school year 13, especially school-leavers and university fresher’s, to make an appointment at their surgery this summer and receive the vaccine. First-time students under 25 are also eligible.
Dr Arif Mahmood, public health consultant, said "It is critical that young people are not complacent about this disease and they take the necessary steps to protect themselves. They will be mixing closely with lots of new people, some of whom may unknowingly be carrying the meningococcal bacteria.
If you're planning to go to university or college, you should be vaccinated before the start of the academic term or before leaving home for university or college, ideally two weeks in advance. Please make an appointment with your GP as soon as possible and make sure you’re protected.
It’s crucial that we also remain alert to the signs and symptoms of the meningococcal disease and seek urgent medical attention if there is any concern. The disease develops rapidly and early symptoms can include headache, vomiting, muscle pain and fever with cold hands and feet. Be aware of all signs and symptoms and trust your instincts - don’t wait for a rash to develop before seeking urgent medical attention”
Dr Andy Watts, GP and chair of Herefordshire clinical commissioning group said, “We are really keen that young people take up this offer as a simple jab can prevent such a serious and often tragic illness. I would urge parents and carers of young people who are eligible for the vaccine to do their bit and point them in our direction so that we can immunise them. They may be growing up but they still might benefit from a parental ‘nudge’”.
Teenagers born between 1 September 1996 and 31 August 1997 will be sent an invitation by their GP to come and receive the vaccination.
First-time university entrants, leaving the county this year aged between 19 and 24 should contact their GP for the vaccination. To find out more visit www.nhs.co.uk