Why Teens Should Get The Meningitis Vaccine Before They Go To Uni

Young people going to university this September are being urged to get vaccinated against meningitis.

Public Health England say that all new students up the age of 25 should make sure they've had the MenACWY vaccine to protect themselves against four strains of bacteria that cause meningitis and septicemia.

The first few months of your first year at university are a particularly risky time as you'll mix with lots of new people, some of whom might be carriers of the disease without even realising it.

Last year the MenACWY vaccine replaced the old MenC vaccine routinely given in school years 9 and 10. A programme giving the MenACWY vaccine to first-time students also began last year.

Overseas students have been advised to register with a GP as soon as they arrive in the UK at the start of term and arrange to have the vaccine.

Meningitis Now / meningitisnow.org

Meningitis is an inflammation of the protective membrane around the brain and spinal cord, and can be deadly. Cases of meningitis caused by the MenW strain of bacteria are “particularly severe and usually need to be treated in intensive care”, according to the NHS.

Since 2009, cases of meningitis W have been on the rise. According to the NHS the number of meningitis W infections in England jumped from 22 cases in 2009 to 117 in 2014. Deaths from the disease are also increasing, from 4 per year between 2009 and 2012 to 24 in total during 2013 and 2014, the last year for which there are figures.

Early symptoms of the disease include headache, vomiting, muscle pain, fever, and cold hands and feet. A rash that doesn't disappear under a glass is also seen in some, but not all, cases. You don't need to wait for a rash to appear before seeking treatment if you suspect you have meningitis.

TL;DR: If you're about to go to uni for the first time, and are under 25, ask your GP for the MenACWY vaccine before you go. For more information about the vaccine visit the NHS website.

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