A new meningitis vaccine is now being offered to the UK’s student population in a bid to reduce the increasing numbers of young people suffering from the disease. In 2009, there were 22 confirmed cases of the disease which rose to 117 in 2014. It is hoped that the MenW vaccination will help to reverse this trend in the same way in which cases of meningitis C have been reduced thanks to the MenC vaccine, which does not provide protection against meningitis W. There will also be a MenB vaccination programme beginning in September 2015 for babies.
All eligible university students, including those aged up to 25 and starting university for the first time, should contact their GP for the vaccination.
Meningitis is an infection of the protective membranes that surround the brain and the spinal cord. It can damage the nerves and the brain and can cause severe disability and death.
Students have been urged to exercise caution and to know the symptoms of meningococcal disease. The early symptoms do not always include a rash but can include a headache, vomiting, muscle pain and fever, with cold hands and feet.
It is important to diagnose the condition early and for antibiotics to be provided urgently. At Stephensons, we have dealt with a number of cases were meningitis has not been diagnosed and treated early enough, leading to severe disability.
By Gemma Crompton, clinical negligence trainee solicitor