Starting this week, GPs throughout England will be inviting teenagers aged 17 and 18 (born between 1 September 1996 and 31 August 1997) for a vaccination to protect against meningitis and septicaemia caused by 4 meningococcal strains – Men W, A, C and Y.
Cases of MenW have been increasing since 2009, with 22 deaths from the MenW strain in 2009 to 117 in 2014. The strain is now responsible for around a quarter of all laboratory-confirmed meningococcal cases in England.
Meningococcal bacteria is carried unknowingly in the nose and throat by around 1 in 10 people. It is passed on through close contact and therefore environments where individuals will be mixing closely with new people, such as colleges and universities can cause an increased spread of the disease. It is for this reason that those aged 19 to 24 who will be attending college or university for the first time should also contact their GP for the vaccination.
Chris Head, Chief Executive of the Meningitis Research Foundation is delighted that the government has moved quickly to halt the rise of MenW with the introduction of this vaccination programme “The rise in MenW ST-11 disease is particularly worrying as it causes more severe illness and a higher death rate than other strains”.
The vaccination programme will also be rolled out to 14-17 year olds over the next 2 years.
Meningitis can be deadly if the disease and survivors can often be left with severe disabilities. All who are eligible are urged to ensure they get the MenACWY vaccine.
If you or someone you know would like further advice in respect of a claim please do not hesitate to contact the clinical negligence team on 0800 316 8892.