Life-saving vaccine offered to teens

Meningitis Awareness Week at St John Rigby College
Meningitis Awareness Week at St John Rigby College
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WIGAN health chiefs are set to offer teenagers vaccinations against a new deadly form of meningitis after a surge in the number of cases.

All 14 to 18-year-olds in the borough will be offered the life-saving jab as, since 2009, figures show there has been a continuing rise in MenW.

Alisha Bartolini

Alisha Bartolini

Nationally, there have been 24 deaths from this type of meningitis in the past two years.

Prof Kate Ardern, director for public health at Wigan Council, said: “I welcome the advice that immunisation should be offered to 14 to 18 year-olds to prevent the transmission of meningococcal group W (MenW) disease.

“The advice follows a report from Public Health England that showed a continuing rise in cases of MenW nationally since 2009.

“While the number of cases and overall risk remains very low, MenW is a rare but life-threatening infection in children and adults.

While the number of cases and overall risk remains very low, MenW is a rare but life-threatening infection in children and adults

Prof Kate Ardern

“It’s crucial that we all remain alert to the signs and symptoms of the disease and seek urgent medical attention if there is any concern. The disease develops rapidly and early symptoms can include: headache, vomiting, muscle pain and fever with cold hands and feet. Be aware of all signs and symptoms - and don’t wait for a rash to develop before seeking urgent medical attention.”

Meningitis is any of its forms can have deadly results. Last November Alisha Bartolini of Appley Bridge was found dead at student accommodation in Liverpool. Police later confirmed the former St John Rigby student died from meningococcal meningitis.

Now top Wigan doctors have urged all teenagers to take up the offer of the new vaccination.

A spokesman for NHS Wigan Borough Clinical Commissioning Group added: “Meningitis is an infection of the protective membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord.If you think you or one of your family may have the symptoms of meningitis don’t wait for a rash to develop but instead seek immediate medical help, even if this means going to A&E in the middle of the night.

“It is essential that parents take their children to be vaccinated when requested.

“Anyone under 25 who hasn’t yet received Men C vaccination can have a single catch-up free dose on the NHS.

If you want a catch-up dose of the vaccine, please arrange with your GP.”