The meningitis ACWY vaccine was only introduced for free to students last year after a worrying rise in the number of cases.

The new vaccination was made available for free to students starting university last September, with GP’s writing to all 17 and 18 year olds suggesting they be vaccinated in their local surgery.

They also encouraged anyone starting university, up to the age of 25, to request the vaccination with their doctor.

Students and teenagers are the second most ‘at risk’ group of people when it comes to meningitis, with under 5’s being the first.

The vaccine was introduced because of an increasing number of cases of a particularly aggressive strain of MenW which was targeting students and healthy young adults.

Cases of MenW have been increasing each year, from only 22 reported cases in 2009, to over 200 cases in the last year.

Students moving into halls of residence become more at risk of getting the disease because of cramped living conditions, close proximity with lots of new people and generally poor eating and sleeping habits during the freshers period.

Young adults are also more likely to contract the disease simply because they are more likely to carry the bacteria which causes meningitis.

Whereas 1 in 10 adults in the UK carry the bacteria in the back of their throat, it increases to 1 in 4 in young people.

Even though most people will carry the bacteria and never become ill, with such a concentrated amount in halls of residence for example, the likelihood of contracting meningitis increases.

Unfortunately even after lots of campaigning and awareness programmes, it is thought that only 29% of eligible people took up the offer of a free meningitis vaccination.


Featured image credit: Eduard STOICA