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Students Urged To Have Meningitis Vaccine PDF Print Email

A new meningitis vaccine is to be offered to UK teenagers and students.

The vaccine, MenACWY, will be offered to everyone between 14 and 18 as well as students under 25 attending university or college to protect against meningitis W (MenW), a deadly strain of meningitis.


GPs across the UK are asking teenagers and first-time students to come for a vaccine.


There has been a steep rise in MenW cases in the last 5 years and those in this group are particularly vulnerable.

Meningitis W has a higher death rate than other strains of meningitis.


Public Health England have released a statement saying it is important that anyone going to university this year gets vaccinated because they will be mixing with lots of new people, some of whom may unknowingly be carrying the meningococcal bacteria.  Health experts in Scotland and Wales are also urging teenages and new students to get vaccinated at their GP surgery this summer.

MenW is a highly aggressive variant of the disease and the MenACWY vaccine is new and shown to be effective in protecting people from the disease.

The new vaccine, replaces the old MenC vaccine.


The rise in MenW cases comes as instances of meningitis C have reduced dramatically since 2002, with so many more people inoculated against that variant but the old MenC vaccine doesn’t protect against new strains.


Since cases of meningitis C have fallen so sharply group B now accounts for the majority of cases.  A MenB vaccination programme targeted at young children will begin next month.  Babies and young children under five are most at risk, but students, who live in close proximity to each other and share residences, kitchens, cigarettes and kisses, are also a high-risk group.


Making an appointment with your doctor to get vaccinated could save your life.


Head of immunisation at Public Health England, Dr Mary Ramsay, said all eligible teenagers would be called in for vaccinations by their GP. University freshers should contact their GP for vaccination before starting their courses.

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

“We must all remain alert to the signs and symptoms of 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.”


  • Meningitis is an infection of the membrane that surrounds the brain and spinal cord
  • Meningococcal bacteria are common and carried harmlessly in the nose or throat by about one in 10 people
  • They are passed on through close contact

  • Symptoms include a high fever with cold hands and feet, vomiting and headaches, confusion and agitation
  • If you suspect any symptoms seek medical help before waiting for a rash to develop