Carshalton and Wallington MP Tom Brake is backing calls by leading UK meningitis charity, Meningitis Now, to get young people to protect themselves from a deadly strain of bacterial meningitis.
Following a worrying increase of 809% in meningococcal (group W) meningitis cases in the past 5 years, a vaccination programme to protect young people aged 14-15 through schools, and those aged 17 to 18 through their GP, was launched.
Despite the introduction of this vaccine, and the increased risk to students and young people, the uptake of the Men ACWY remains very low, with just 9.9% of 17 and 18 year olds within London taking up the vaccine, and 17.4% across England.
Young people and particularly first year university students are at an increased risk from meningococcal bacteria which can cause meningitis and septicaemia. Early signs can go undetected, and in young people can be put down to a bout of the flu, or even a hangover.
Tom Brake said: “It is crucial that young people in London take advantage of the free vaccines available while they have the chance, especially those heading off to university. I would urge everyone to have a look at the website and book themselves in for a vaccine as soon as possible.”
Liz Brown, Chief Executive at Meningitis Now said: “We welcome Tom Brake’s support in calling on young people across the UK to get the Men ACWY vaccine. It is particularly poignant given the sad news of a student death at the University of Northumbria from Men W.
Young people, especially those attending university for the first time should, if they haven’t done so already, take immediate action to protect themselves from this dangerous meningitis bug. The vaccination is free and available through GP practices for 17-18 year olds, and first year university students, up to the age of 25.”
For more information on the vaccine, or to download the signs and symptoms app for your phone visit https://www.meningitisnow.org