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Call to boost students’ uptake of meningitis vaccination

Only a third of students got MenACWY vaccine last year

Adrian O'Dowd

Thursday, 17 August 2017

Poor uptake of students’ vaccination against meningitis must be tackled urgently with a targeted social media campaign, according to the Royal College of Nursing (RCN).

The RCN’s public health experts have called for a campaign to warn new students of the threat from meningitis and to encourage school leavers to receive the fully comprehensive MenACWY vaccine, which has replaced the MenC vaccine to cover all four strains vaccination.

There has been a sharp increase in the W strain of meningococcal disease over the last few years, which is harder to diagnose and more likely to lead to life-changing disabilities or even death.

Latest figures from Public Health England show that only a third of 18-year-olds received the vaccination last year, meaning that around 400,000 school leavers did not receive the vaccine before moving into university shared accommodation.

Most people between the ages of 17 and 20 are eligible for the MenACWY vaccine from their GP.

The college said that ideally, vaccinations should be administered before the end of August to give the body time to build up an immunity before the start of term mid-September.

Traditional modes of communication were not as effective with this age group, said the RCN, so the government and NHS should launch an awareness campaign on social media platforms.

Helen Donovan, RCN professional lead for public health and an expert in vaccination, said: “A targeted social media campaign could save lives.

“The low take-up is a serious concern as people starting university are particularly at risk. Letters are not enough – it’s vital we communicate with young people using platforms they are likely to use.”

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