This is the message from Meningitis Research Foundation (MRF) today as they start a month long campaign to encourage youngsters starting University to take up vaccination for a deadly strain of Meningitis that is on the rise.
MRF are working in conjunction with UCAS, Public Health England and other public health agencies for Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland to ensure that this important issue is understood.
Teenagers are at particular risk from the Men W strain of the disease as they are more likely to carry the bacteria causing the disease. Freshers at University are at risk, as the disease can spread rapidly in Halls of Residence. Those who are not moving on to Higher Education and all young people are encouraged to seek advice.
Men W is a particularly aggressive strain of the disease with cases on the rise since 2008/9 when it only accounted for 1-2 % of all meningitis cases to 24% of cases in 2014/15. It is fatal in one in ten cases and recovery can be incomplete with deafness, brain injury and amputation.
From August 2015, all 14-18 year olds were eligible for the vaccine and it is now routinely given to children aged 14. However, the general vaccination programme that was rolled out last summer means that there are still youngsters in this age group who remain unprotected.
There is still plenty of time to have the vaccine and the recommendation is that it takes place more than two weeks before the start of term. As part of the campaign MRF are also sending information packs out to GPs.