New meningococcal vaccination programme expected to save lives

Students who are heading to college or university this month are being urged to get a free meningitis vaccination.

Peterborough City Council’s public health team is welcoming the new MenACWY vaccination programme that offers teenagers protection against meningitis and septicaemia caused by four meningococcal strains including MenW.

The council is joining NHS England in calling for all year 13 students and anyone under the age of 25 who is attending their first year of university to get the vaccination.

This group are at increased risk of getting meningococcal disease, as many of them will be mixing closely with lots of new people at university, some of whom may unknowingly carry the meningococcal bacteria.

Dr Anne McConville, interim consultant in public health at Peterborough City Council, said: “We’re encouraging all eligible teenagers to take-up the offer of vaccination when they are contacted by their GP.

“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. Please make an appointment with your GP as soon as possible when the vaccine is offered.

“First time university entrants from 19 to 24 years of age inclusive should also contact their GP for the vaccination.

“Meningitis can be deadly and survivors are often left with severe disabilities as a result of this terrible disease. This vaccine will save lives and prevent permanent disability.”

As well as Men W, the vaccination also protects against other forms of the disease – meningococcal disease types A, C and Y – which can also be fatal or cause long term complications for those affected.

Chris Head, chief executive of the Meningitis Research Foundation, said: "The Meningitis Research Foundation is delighted that the government has moved so quickly to halt the rise of MenW ST-11 with this MenACWY vaccination programme for 14 to 24 year olds.

“The rise in Men W ST-11 disease is particularly worrying as it causes more severe illness and a higher death rate than other strains.

“We urge all who are eligible to make sure they get MenACWY vaccine.”

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