You may think from the title of this post I may be talking about a free alcoholic beverage, but much to your dismay I am not. I am talking about a free vaccine that is available to students. This vaccine is for meningitis and is called MenACWY.
Meningitis can affect anyone however it is most common in babies, young children, teenagers and young adults. It is a very serious illness if it is not treated quickly, this is because it can cause septicaemia which is blood poisoning. The NHS website states that meningitis is an infection of the protection membranes that surround the brain and the spinal cord, if it leads to septicaemia it can result in permanent damage to the brain or nerves. However, there are a number of vaccines that can help protect us from meningitis.
is currently campaigning to create awareness about meningitis because cases of meningitis and septicaemia are rising and a particularly deadly type is spreading amongst students. Students are a high risk of contracting this infection because they tend to mix very closely with a number of people and they may be carrying the meningococcal bacteria. This is spread by coughing, sneezing or intimate kissing or it can be spread through the faecal oral route, which means when somebody has used the bathroom and not washed their hand properly. Gross, I know…
The highest risk of contracting meningitis is in the first year of university, particularly the first few months. If you suspect you may have symptoms contact your GP immediately. The symptoms are:
- a high temperature (fever) over 37.5C (99.5F)
- being sick
- a blotchy rash
- stiff neck
- a dislike of bright lights
- drowsiness or unresponsiveness
- seizures (fits)
The symptoms can come in any order and some may not appear at all, but in all cases the blotchy rash will appear. If this occurs you will need to do the “glass test” – this is where you roll a glass over the rash and if the bruises/spots do not disappear there’s a problem. Furthermore, the rash can be the last symptom to appear so don’t wait till a rash appears to go to the GP. For more information, visit the NHS website here.
If you are under 25 and you are in your first year of uni then you are at high risk and therefore you are being targeted to get the Men ACWY vaccine for free at your local GP’s surgery. If you are in your second year or above you are not included in the vaccination programme as you are at less of a risk. Ideally you should get your vaccination two weeks prior to moving away. It’s a bit late now, but that doesn’t mean you don’t need to be jabbed! Any first year students not immunised before they start should get the vaccine by registering with their university health centre or GP practice. Besides the best things in life are free, right….!
If you read through the meningitis.org website it gives you loads more information that you need to be aware about. I can’t stress how dangerous this infection is. Why take the risk if you can get one tiny vaccination. #StopTheSpread
Hope this is helpful and don’t forget #StopTheSpread