Students returning to university for the start of term are being urged by the Public Health Agency (PHA) to get a vaccine that can help protect against meningitis and septicaemia.
The vaccine, which helps protect against meningococcal A, C, W and Y disease, is available from GPs for anyone aged 17-19 years (ie those born between 2 July 1996 and 1 July 1999), and first time university students up to the age of 25.
Dr Lucy Jessop, Consultant in Health Protection at the PHA, said: “Older teenagers are at higher risk of getting MenW disease, so you need to get vaccinated to help protect yourself. It will also reduce the risk of you carrying the bacteria, therefore also protecting those around you. We would urge those entitled to receive the vaccine to contact their GP to make an appointment, whether you are at university or not.”
Look out for any of these symptoms: Fever, cold hands and feet; Vomiting and diarrhoea; Drowsiness, difficult to wake up; Irritability and/or confusion; Dislike of bright lights; Severe headache or muscle pains; Pale, blotchy skin with or without a rash; Convulsions/seizures; Stiff neck.
The early symptoms of meningococcal disease are similar to flu, so you need to be able to recognise them very quickly even if you have been vaccinated as the vaccines offered through the routine immunisation programme do not protect against all forms of the disease.