Students urged to get lifesaving meningitis jab

Meningitis: Dr Ranj explains signs and symptoms in 2019

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The shot is normally given to 13 and 14-year-olds at school but uptake has been falling, from 88 percent in 2018-’19 to 58 percent in 2019-’20. Many university students are unaware that if they did not receive it at school, they can still get the jab free on the NHS. Dr Tom Nutt, boss of charity Meningitis Now, said: “Clearly universities are concentrating their efforts on Covid-19 but we’d urge them not to ignore the potential impact of meningitis.

“We are concerned that the combination of new-found social freedoms, the desire of young people to mix in large groups and a move to campus-based accommodation present an ideal opportunity for infectious diseases to spread, putting young people at a higher risk of meningococcal meningitis and septicaemia.

“Vaccines are the only way to protect against meningitis and, with teenagers an at-risk group, it’s vital for students and young adults to be aware of this life-saving message.”

Cases are likely to rise again as campuses reopen this month.

In the last five years, 25 out of 86 universities reported a total of 110 meningitis cases.

A Daily Express Freedom of Information request also revealed that eight of these were fatal.

Some 25 percent of 15 to 19-year-olds are thought to be carriers of the bacteria, as opposed to one in 10 of the population. It can be passed on by coughing, sneezing and kissing.

Sufferers deteriorate rapidly, with symptoms including a high temperature, cold hands, vomiting, drowsiness and muscle pain.

PHE’s Dr Vanessa Saliba urged students to check with their GP to see if they have been jabbed.

She said: “Mixing with lots of new people can put university students at greater risk of a number of serious infectious diseases, including meningitis.”

Jabs for the more deadly meningitis B cost £110 at Boots.

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