Young people urged to take up MenACWY vaccine

Young people urged to take up MenACWY vaccine

Public Health England has issued a call for more young people to make sure they have received the MenACWY vaccine if they are eligible to do so.

Parents are also being reminded to encourage their 18-year-old children to get vaccinated against meningitis and septicaemia, due to a rapid increase in MenW cases recorded across England in recent years.

MenACWY protects against four strains - A, C, W and Y - of meningococcal disease that cause meningitis and septicaemia, with MenW identified as one of the most aggressive and life-threatening forms.

The condition can result in life-changing disabilities, including brain damage and loss of limbs. The MenACWY vaccine remains the best form of protection against the A, C, W, and Y strains, with a 100 per cent effectiveness rate in those that have been vaccinated so far.

Those who are due to leave school this summer, or aged 17 to 18 and are not in school, are now eligible to receive the vaccine, as are new entrants to higher education. Meanwhile, young people who have missed their opportunities to get vaccinated in previous years remain eligible to receive it up to their 25th birthday.

Dr Mary Ramsay, head of immunisation at Public Health England, said: "Young people are particularly at risk as they are carriers of the disease. Being in confined environments with close contact, such as university halls, hostels when travelling, or attending festivals, increase the chances of infection if unprotected.

"Get vaccinated as soon as possible, remain vigilant and seek urgent medical help if you have concerns for yourself or friends."

However, Public Health England also noted that the vaccine does not cover all forms of meningococcal disease, meaning it remains important for parents and young people to be vigilant about spotting early symptoms and seek medical assistance.