New students urged to get brain bug jab

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Wigan parents were today reminded to encourage their 18-year-old children to get vaccinated against deadly meningitis and septicaemia.

Those who are due to leave school this summer, or aged 17 or 18, and are not in school are now eligible.

The warnings have extra potency in Wigan following the death in November 2014 of 18-year-old Wigan student Alisha Bartolini from meningitis just weeks after she had started at Liverpool Hope University.

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 limb loss. The MenACWY vaccine remains the best form of protection against the A, C, W, and Y strains with a 100 per cent effectiveness rate in those vaccinated so far.

Dr Graham Wardman, consultant in screening and immunisation (Greater Manchester), said: “The MenACWY vaccination programme will save lives and prevent lifelong and devastating disability. We have seen a rapid increase in Men W cases across England in recent years and in the North West and vaccination is the most effective way of protecting against infection.

“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.

“Get vaccinated as soon as possible, remain vigilant and seek urgent medical help if you have concerns for yourself or friends. New entrants to higher education are also eligible. Anyone eligible and has missed vaccination in previous years remains eligible up to their 25th birthday and is urged to have the MenACWY vaccine.”