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Plea for students to seek MenC vaccine from GPs

Vaccination window before university terms begin

Adrian O'Dowd

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

GPs could be contacted by increasing numbers of students for a vaccination against meningococcal C (MenC) infection before university terms begin in September.

Public Health England (PHE) is urging new students to ensure they get the vaccination soon because the protection offered by the infant meningococcal vaccine wanes hence new students need a booster.

Currently in the UK, all children are offered MenC vaccine to protect them against MenC infection but, as the protection offered by the vaccine can wane, a booster for teenagers was added last year.

For the next few years, university “freshers” will also be eligible for vaccination, until the teenagers who have had the booster reach university age.

Dr Shamez Ladhani, an expert on meningococcal disease for PHE, said: “Students starting university and mixing with lots of new people, some of whom may unknowingly carry the meningococcal bacteria, are at risk of infection.

“As the protection offered by the infant MenC vaccine wanes over time we are recommending university ‘freshers’ get a booster before they begin university, even if they received it as a young child. The addition of the ‘freshers’ MenC immunisation will contribute to the highly successful vaccination programme we have in the UK.”

The MenC booster is available to any student entering university for the first time born after September 1995 and who received the MenC vaccine under the age of 10 years, or any student of any age entering or being at university who is unvaccinated against MenC disease.

PHE said that anyone born before September 1995 and who received the MenC vaccination at secondary school would not need another dose.

Dr Ladhani added: “Ideally, freshers should have the MenC vaccination at least 2 weeks before they go away to study. However, anyone starting university without the booster should arrange to get it as soon as possible, via their university or college health centre or GP. If in doubt, there is no harm in having an extra dose.”

Getting the vaccine was also important for students coming to study from abroad who were unable to get the vaccine at home.

A leaflet for university/college students about Men C vaccinations has been produced.

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