Student health: MenACWY vaccine
Those starting university are being encouraged to get a vaccination against meningitis known as the MenACWY vaccine. The MenACWY vaccine is a single injection into the upper arm. It protects against four different causes of meningitis and septicaemia: meningococcal (Men) A, C, W and Y diseases. Students going to university or college for the first time are advised to get in touch with their GP to have the MenACWY vaccine before the start of or in the first few weeks of the academic year. Ideally first year students should arrange to have the MenACWY vaccine from their GP at least 2 weeks before they go away to university. Any first-year students not immunised before they started university are advised to register with their university health centre or other GP practice to get the vaccine. All new university entrants up to 25 years old are eligible for the MenACWY vaccine.
Cases of meningitis and septicaemia caused by Men W bacteria are on the rise and university students are at a high risk of infection as many students mix closely with lots of new people and some people may not realise they are carrying the meningococcal bacteria. The highest risk of meningitis is in the first year at university, especially during the first few months. Students can be more vulnerable to meningitis due to accommodation in cramped housing or in halls of residence. Often young people come together from all over the world to live in one place when starting university and can be exposed to new bacteria and viruses. You can read more about the MenACWY vaccine from Meningitis Now.
As the early symptoms of meningitis can disguise themselves as other illnesses, such as flu, it can be easy to mistake meningitis for something else. Also, students who are new at university are often living away from their parents for the first time, which can mean their own health is less of a priority. Meningitis and septicaemia are very serious and require urgent medical attention. If you think you have got either, seek medical help immediately and make sure your fellow students are aware of the symptoms so you can look out for each other. It is important to understand the signs and symptoms of meningitis. You can download a free guide from Meningitis Now which is handy to store on your phone and gives information about the signs and symptoms, as well as website links and contacts. A meningitis signs and symptoms app is also available. Meningitis Now has published useful videos to help you better understand the signs and symptoms of meningitis. You can also request a free credit-card sized signs and symptoms card by calling the Meningitis Helpline on 0808 80 10 388. You can find out more about meningitis from NHS Choices.
Have a read of this leaflet to find out more about the MenACWY vaccine for new students.