NHS Highland is advising young people aged between 16 and 18 to get vaccinated against meningitis and septicaemia (blood poisoning) due to the Men W bacteria.
The Men ACWY vaccine was introduced to the national immunisation programme in 2015 for young teenagers and ‘fresher’ students going to college or university.
This was in response to an increasing number of cases of Men W disease seen across the UK. Older teenagers are at high risk of infection because many of them mix closely with lots of new people, some of whom may carry the bacteria.
Those aged 16-18 currently still at school will be offered the vaccine through the school programme due to commence shortly.
It is recognised that some of this age group have now left school and did not take up the offer of the vaccine in the last two years. Those resident in the NHS Highland area and registered with an NHS Highland GP are being encouraged to attend their GP for the vaccine.
NHS Highland’s senior health protection nurse Lorraine McKee said: “The Men ACWY vaccine is given by a single injection into the upper arm and protects against four different causes of meningitis and septicaemia – meningococcal (Men) A, C, W and Y diseases.”
While it is recognised that the highest risk of contracting meningitis is in the first uear of university, it is important that all young people have an awareness of the illness as early diagnosis and antibiotic treatment allow most people with meningococcal disease to make a full recovery.
However, it can lead to long-term health problems such as epilepsy, amputation, deafness and learning difficulties.
Mrs McKee continued: “The Men ACWY vaccine provides good protection against serious infections. We would encourage young people aged between 16 and 18 and who have left school to book an appointment with their GP as soon as they can.”
Further information on the Men ACWY vaccine can be found here.