Posted: Friday 25th August 2017
Hertfordshire County Council is reminding school leavers, particularly those going to university or college next month, to get vaccinated against Meningitis W (MenW) and septicaemia.
East of England figures show that less than a fifth of 18-year-olds leaving school had received their vaccination by the end of August. New students are at greatest risk because they mix closely with large groups of new people, some of whom unknowingly carry the bacteria, allowing it to spread more quickly.
Richard Roberts, Cabinet Member for Public Health, said: “In the first few days of college or university, exposure to the bacteria that cause meningitis increases dramatically. It is vital that new students get this highly effective, potentially life-saving injection from their GP before they go.
"Meningitis can be fatal and can cause long-term complications, but it is easily prevented. The vaccination is safe and effective with minimal side-effects, so I would urge everyone who is offered the vaccination to take up the offer.
“It’s also vital to watch out for your friends if they’re unwell. If people do have meningitis it can be like a very bad hangover that quickly gets worse. It can be deadly so act fast and get medical help.”
It is advised that the following groups get vaccinated as soon as possible:
• all 17 and 18 year olds
• 19-year-olds who missed getting vaccinated last year
• anyone aged up to 25 starting university
Meningitis (inflammation of the lining of the brain) and septicaemia (blood poisoning) are very serious diseases caused by meningococcal bacteria. Cases of MenW have been increasing year-on-year, from 22 cases in 2009 to more than 209 cases in 2015, the latest year for which figures are available.
The disease can develop suddenly and progress rapidly. Early symptoms include headache, vomiting, muscle pain, fever, and cold hands and feet. Students should be alert to the signs and symptoms and should not wait for a rash to develop before seeking medical attention urgently. Students are also encouraged to look out for their housemates and friends, particularly if they go to their room unwell.
For more information on symptoms visit www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Meningitis
For further information about other health initiatives in Hertfordshire, please visit www.hertsdirect.org/healthinherts