New meningitis vaccination for teenagers

Published on: Monday, 24-August-2015

Knowsley teenagers getting ready to start college or university are being urged to take up the offer of the new meningitis vaccination.

Parents are also being advised to encourage their teenagers to take up their GP invitation and get vaccinated, particularly if they are going to university for the first time.

Local Public Health teams are welcoming the start of the new MenACWY vaccination programme that will offer teenagers protection against meningitis (inflammation of the brain) and septicaemia (blood poisoning) caused by four meningococcal strains including MenW.

From August, GPs will be inviting teenagers aged 17 and 18 (born between 01 September 1996 and 31 August 1997) for the vaccine. All adolescents born between 01 September 1996 and 31 August 1997 in England are eligible for vaccination regardless of their future plans.

Where possible, it’s important that anyone who plans to go to college or university this year get vaccinated before they leave. This group are at increased risk of getting meningococcal disease, as many will be mixing closely with lots of new people at university, some of whom may unknowingly carry the meningococcal bacteria. Students are urged to make an appointment with their GP as soon as possible.

The vaccine is being introduced in response to a rapidly growing increase in cases of a highly aggressive strain of meningococcal disease, group W. Cases of MenW have been increasing year-on-year, from 22 cases in 2009 to 117 in 2014. It is currently responsible for around a quarter of all laboratory-confirmed meningococcal cases in England.

In March 2015, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) reviewed the outbreak in detail and concluded that this increase was likely to continue in future years unless action is taken, and advised that 14 to 18 year-olds should be immunised against meningococcal group W (MenW).The vaccination programme was announced in June.

As well as Men W, the vaccination also protects against other forms of the disease – meningococcal disease types A, C and Y – which can also be fatal or cause long term complications for those affected.

Further information can be found on the NHS Choices website.