Public Health chiefs in Wolverhampton are reminding unvaccinated first year university students to make sure they get immunised against meningococcal disease.

The appeal comes as Public Health England (PHE) issues updated advice to universities on reducing the spread of this deadly infection, which causes meningitis and septicaemia, and comes after figures show that less than a third of all young people leaving school or college last summer had been immunised with the Men ACWY vaccine by the end of October.

PHE introduced the vaccination programme in 2015 to tackle a sharp increase in a particularly virulent strain of meningococcal W disease that poses a high risk for new students.

Councillor Paul Sweet, the City of Wolverhampton Council's Cabinet Member for Public Health and Wellbeing, said: "New students are at a higher risk of meningococcal disease.

"They mix closely with large numbers of new people, some of whom will unknowingly be carrying the bacteria, without any signs or symptoms, enabling it to spread. I would urge new university students to get vaccinated as soon as possible, and remind second year students who missed their vaccination last year that they are also eligible for immunisation."

The vaccine, which also provides protection against the Men A, C and Y strains, not only protects those vaccinated, but it will help control the spread of the disease in the wider population.

Dr Ash Banerjee, Screening and Immunisation lead with PHE West Midlands, said: "Many students will have been vaccinated before they left home for university and some will have got vaccinated by their new GP last term.

"However, for those who haven't, it is not too late. First year students remain at significantly greater risk than most young people from this deadly disease. So I would strongly urge them to go and see their GP to get vaccinated - it could save their life."

  • released: Wednesday 11 January, 2017