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Protection against meningitis and septicaemia for students

Men ACWY vaccine

The start of term is always an exciting time of year for new and returning students. With so many new faces on campus, colds and minor viruses can spread quickly – while this is perfectly normal and no cause for alarm, staff are encouraged to remind students of the Men ACWY vaccine, which protects against meningitis and septicaemia.  

Men ACWY: the facts 

Your support is needed in reminding new students to get vaccinated against meningitis and septicaemia, if they haven’t already. 

Here’s why:

  • Cases of meningitis and septicaemia caused by the aggressive meningitis W strain are on the rise
  • Young people are particularly at risk as they are carriers of the disease
  • Being in confined environments with close contact, such as university halls, hostels when travelling, or attending festivals, increase the chances of infection if unprotected
  • The Men ACWY vaccine is the best form of protection against these deadly diseases

Who is eligible for a free NHS vaccine?

The NHS can provide the vaccine for free to:

  • Those aged 17-18 (born between 1 September 1998 and 31 August 1999) 
  • New entrants to higher education (university freshers)

Anyone who is eligible and has missed vaccination in previous years can take up the vaccine up to their 25th birthday. 

Please remind all your new students to register with a GP and take up the vaccination as soon as possible.

A list of local GPs and dentists is available online>>>>

What does the vaccine do?

The MenACWY jab protects against four strains of meningococcal disease which cause meningitis and septicaemia, known as strains A, C, W and Y. MenW is one of the most aggressive and life threatening forms and meningococcal disease can be fatal. Many survivors are left with life changing disabilities, including brain damage and loss of limbs. The MenACWY vaccine remains the best form of protection against the A, C, W, and Y strains with a 100% effectiveness rate in those that have been vaccinated so far.  

While the vaccine also helps protect against Men A, C, W and Y, it does not cover all forms of meningococcal disease. It is therefore important for young people to be vigilant in spotting early symptoms and to seek early medical assistance if they are concerned. Not everyone will develop these symptoms and they can appear in any order but common symptoms may include:

  • Pale, blotchy skin with or without a rash
  • Irritability and/or confusion
  • Severe headache, joint or muscle pains
  • Dislike of bright lights
  • Stiff neck
  • Convulsions/seizures
  • Fever, cold hands and feet
  • Vomiting and/or diarrhoea
  • Drowsiness, difficult to wake up

See the NHS choices Men ACWY vaccine page for further information. 

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