Health chiefs have welcomed a new vaccination programme which will protect teenagers in Wolverhampton from meningitis and septicaemia.

GPs will be inviting teenagers aged 17 and 18 - born between 1 September, 1996 and 31 August 1997 - to come in for their vaccination, which will offer protection against inflammation of the brain and blood poisoning caused by 4 meningococcal strains.

Meningitis is an infection of the protective membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord. The vaccine has been introduced in response to a rapid increase in cases of a highly aggressive strain of meningococcal disease.

Councillor Sandra Samuels, the City of Wolverhampton Council's Cabinet Member for Public Health and Wellbeing, said: "Meningitis is a distressing disease and it can be fatal, while survivors are often left with severe disabilities as a result of the infection.

"I'd urge all those who are eligible to make sure they are vaccinated as soon as possible.

"It's also vitally important that young people planning to go to university this year get vaccinated prior to starting. Students are at increased risk of getting meningococcal disease, as many of them will be mixing closely with lots of new people at university, some of whom may unknowingly carry the meningococcal bacteria."

Dr Mary Ramsay, Head of Immunisation at Public Health England added: "We're encouraging all eligible teenagers to take up the offer of vaccination when they are contacted by their GP.

"If you're planning to go to university or college, you should be vaccinated before the start of the academic term or before leaving home for university or college, ideally 2 weeks in advance. Please make an appointment with your GP as soon as possible when the vaccine is offered. First time university entrants from 19 to 24 years of age should also contact their GP for the vaccination."

People are also urged to remain alert to the signs and symptoms of meningococcal disease and seek urgent medical attention if there is any concern.

The disease develops rapidly and early symptoms include headache, vomiting, muscle pain and fever with cold hands and feet. Anyone developing these symptoms should seek urgent medical attention - don't wait for a rash to develop before acting.

  • released: Tuesday 4 August, 2015