Students heading to university are being urged to get vaccinated against the deadly meningitis infection.
Dr Jonathan Cope, managing GP partner at Beacon Medical Group is concerned at recent reports from the Royal College of Nursing that only one third of eligible teenagers in England got their free vaccination last year.
Older teenagers and new university students are at particularly high risk of meningitis as they mix closely with many new people. The disease can be spread by coughs, sneezes and kissing.
A rapid increase in cases of MenW – one of the deadliest strains of the disease – has been reported across England in recent years, rising from 22 in 2010 to 210 in 2016.
Dr Cope hopes more young people can be convinced to ensure they are immunised.
“With such a rapid rise in a deadly strain of MenW meningitis and septicaemia in the last few years we really are urging all teenagers to take up their free vaccine this year. Letters have been sent inviting them in for the jab and parents and teenagers are being warned to take up the offer which could end up saving their life.”
The issue has been highlighted nationally by the case of a 21 year-old who lost both her legs and all of the fingers on her left hand after she fell ill with MenW, just after starting university.
The MenACWY jab protects against four strains of meningococcal disease which cause meningitis and septicaemia – strains A, C, W and Y.
Young people who have not yet had this vaccine remain eligible up to their 25th birthday and should contact the surgery to make an appointment.