Meningococcal group W (Men W) has been rare in the UK. However, in recent years cases of Men W have increased. An aggressive strain of Men W is affecting all age groups – but especially university students.
The Meningitis A C W Y vaccine, introduced in the UK in 2015, protects against the four groups of meningococcal bacteria A, C, W and Y.
About Meningitis A C W Y Vaccine
Men W cases have been increasing year-on-year since 2009, with 23 cases confirmed in 2009 and 119 confirmed in 2014. Between 2009 and 2012, Men W caused around 4 deaths every year – mainly among the elderly. During 2013 and 2014 there were 24 deaths among the 193 cases. For the first time in over a decade, Men W deaths have been seen in infants and toddlers.
Although Men W cases have increased in all age groups, there has been a significant increase in university students. Teenagers and young people are more likely to carry meningococcal bacteria in the back of their throats. By giving the vaccine to 14 – 18 year olds, and new university students, this will directly protect this age group and also reduce the chance of the bacteria spreading to others.
Is this a new vaccine?
The Meningitis A C W Y vaccines are called Nimenrix® and Menveo®. They have been used for many years across the world and have an excellent safety record. A single dose of either vaccine provides the same level of protection in adolescents and young people.
As far as side effects, the vaccine may cause soreness, some redness and swelling at the injection site. There may also be a headache, vomiting or high temperature, but these temporary symptoms should resolve after one or two days.
Who should get the vaccination?
The Meningitis A C W Y vaccine is only being offered to 13 – 18 year olds and new university students. However, the vaccine is also recommended for children and adults who are at increased risk of meningococcal disease.
School year 12, 13 and older university entrants (Freshersprogramme) can get this vaccination at a GP’s practice. Please be aware if you live outside Scotland but are attending University in Scotland, ensure you get the Meningitis A C W Y vaccine before you go. You will not automatically be able to get it from the GP surgery when you get there.
Call HEALTHHUB now to make an appointment.