The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) reminded university students to ensure their vaccinations are up to date before the approaching academic year. With term starting for many in September and October, the UKHSA encouraged students to check their vaccination status before Freshers’ Week to “protect themselves against a range of life-threatening illnesses”.
According to the UKHSA, diseases such as meningitis, septicaemia, and measles, pose potential threats to home and international students as they mingle in large groups. Students can check in with their GPs before term-time to determine whether they are well-protected.
Three recommended jabs
The three vaccines that are being recommended for all students are:
- MenACWY – this protects against 4 common strains (not all strains) causing meningitis and septicaemia
- MMR – this protects against measles, mumps, and rubella
- HPV (for female students) – this protects against cervical and other cancers caused by the human papilloma virus together with genital warts
Consultant Epidemiologist at UKHSA, Dr Shamez Ladhani, emphasised that educational institutions can be “hotspots for the spread of diseases”.
“At the top of any list of essential things to get for college should be any missed vaccines – it could save your life”.
Students are being reminded to check for “signs and symptoms” of meningitis and septicaemia. “Don’t assume it’s just a hangover or freshers’ flu”, Dr Ladhani warned.
Although the MenACWY vaccine is “routinely offered” to students in school years 9 and 10, there are concerns that “some students will have missed out”. Those students are eligible for a “free jab” until their 25th birthday.
The UKHSA also reflected that as routine MenB vaccination was offered to infants in 2015, many students will not have been eligible. Thus, it is “important that they are aware of the signs and symptoms” and feel able to “seek medical care if needed”.
At the Meningitis Research Foundation, Head of Evidence and Policy Clare Wright said, “meningitis can kill healthy people within hours”. She is concerned that it is “difficult to distinguish from a bad hangover or more common milder illnesses in the early stages”.
“For those who have already been vaccinated it remains important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of meningitis because the free vaccine does not protect against MenB”
Dr Tom Nutt, chief executive of Meningitis Now, echoed her concerns about MenB, the strain that “causes the most cases of bacterial meningitis in the UK”.
To learn more about novel approaches to routine vaccinations come to the World Vaccine Congress in Europe by getting your tickets here.