Medical advice for new university students

Published: 24 Aug 2018

If you’re a Fresher or a veteran university student, it is particularly important to keep yourself safe by getting vaccinated against meningitis (Meningitis A, C, W and Y) and septicaemia before the start of term.

New university students are at a greater risk of contracting
the infection because they mix closely with large groups of new people, some of whom unknowingly carry the bacteria which causes meningitis, allowing it to spread more quickly.

Richard Roberts, Cabinet Member for Public Health and Prevention says: “In the first few days of university, exposure to bacteria that causes meningitis increases dramatically. It is vital that new students get the highly effective, potentially life-saving vaccination from their GP.

"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.

“So, on top of all the fun you’ll be expecting to have, it is important to look after yourselves through this new chapter in your lives.

“We wish you all the best if you are a Fresher, and good luck to those current university students for the upcoming year.”

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

 The meningitis vaccine is given by a single injection into the upper arm and protects against four different strains of the meningococcal bacteria that cause meningitis and blood poisoning (septicaemia): A, C, W and Y.


Meningitis (inflammation of the lining of the brain) and septicaemia (blood poisoning) are very serious diseases caused by meningococcal bacteria.


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.


To find out more information on the infection and vaccination, please visit the NHS website.

For further information about other health initiatives in Hertfordshire, please visit our Health in Herts page.