Only a third of students have been vaccinated against meningitis this year. A Gloucestershire charity now says it is disappointed with the low uptake of the Men ACWY vaccine in school leavers and university freshers this year.
Meningitis Now, a charity based in Stroud, Gloucestershire, helps make students aware of the Men ACWY vaccine, signs and symptoms to be aware of and the seriousness of the disease. The charity, who are in the middle of their student awareness week, warn that low uptake in students having meningitis vaccines will only continue to be a problem.
The charity said: “Getting vaccinated and knowing the signs and symptoms to look out for will save lives. In the UK every university could experience at least one case of meningitis amongst its students within the first term. Students attending university, from next year onwards, will have already been offered this vaccine through the school programme when they are around fourteen.”
Cases of Meningococcal W disease are rising, from 22 cases in 2009/10, to 210 in 2015/16. In a study done by the NHS, one in three teenagers who have the Men W disease have died. The disease can spread rapidly and cause serious illness.
Older teenagers and new University students are at a higher risk of infection because many of them mix closely with lots of new people. Currently the Men ACWY vaccine is optional to first year students, advised by Universities and the NHS. The University of Gloucestershire Park Campus Medical Centre offers the meningitis ACWY vaccine to students under the age of 25.
Georgia Deek, a student studying at Swansea University says she didn’t have the vaccine as it wasn’t a priority to her, “I just kept putting it off, I hate needles and was too afraid, I didn’t realise the extent of how serious it could be until my mum told me about it. I didn’t feel like it was promoted around university enough, I didn’t know if I had to book a doctor’s appointment or go into the university.”