THE mum of a Wigan teenager who died from meningitis is urging students to get vaccinated before heading to university.
Alisha Bartolini, of Appley Bridge, was found dead in her student accomodation at Liverpool Hope University after a night out in November last year.
The former St John Rigby student died of meningococcal group C (Men C) and now herheartbroken mum, Michaela, 41, is urging parents to ensure their teenagers get vaccinated as part of the NHS Men ACWY programme which began on August 1.
“Alisha was a beautiful, intelligent 18-year-old girl who was loved by everyone that met her,” she said.
“She was far too young to be taken by this dreadful disease.
“No parent should have to face the death of a child; and no one could have prepared us for the news that we’d lost her.
“It’s every parent’s worst nightmare and has left our entire family devastated.
“The pain we feel will never go away.
“I want to urge all parents to ensure their children are vaccinated, so that they never have to go through what we have.”
The Department of Health announced in June that the Men ACWY vaccine will be offered to all 17 and 18-year-olds and all university freshers (aged 19 to 25) free on the NHS, to combat the rise in Men W cases in adolescents.
Sue Davie, chief executive at Meningitis Now, said: “With the increase in Men W cases among this age group, it is more important than ever for parents to ensure that their children are protected.
“In order to meet this need, we have developed a highly-focused campaign designed to reach out to parents, grandparents and legal guardians.
“The campaign, called ‘Off to Uni’ consists of a series of parent and student resources; including information leaflets, new signs and symptoms cards and branded wristbands, all of which can be easily downloaded or ordered from our website.
“The campaign aims to make sure that loved ones heading off to university this autumn are not complacent about meningitis and take the necessary steps to protect themselves, stay vigilant and seek immediate medical help if they suspect the disease.”
Students are particularly vulnerable to meningitis due to close contact in shared accommodation, such as halls of residence, and exposure to bacteria and viruses that their bodies may not have met before.
Early symptoms of meningitis can be mistaken as common illnesses such as flu or hangovers, especially at the start of term when so many students are suffering from “freshers’ flu.”
To find out more, visit meningitisnow.org.