Freshers urged to sign up for meningitis jab

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Freshers arriving at Leeds’s universities this month have been urged to have a vital meningitis vaccination.

Local GPs can provide the Men ACWY jab free of charge on the NHS to help protect students from four strains of the deadly disease.

The injection gives immunity to meningitis A, C, W and Y. Group W cases have been on the rise in recent years, from 22 instances in 2009 to 117 in 2014 due to an aggressive form of the bug.

Young people are at risk of the disease and students are vulnerable because they are more likely to mix with lots of new people in a close living environment.“Students are at particular risk of contracting fatal meningitis or septicaemia as they are more likely to be mixing closely with lots of new people; some of them may unknowingly be carrying the meningococcal bacteria in their nose or throat. Having the Men ACWY vaccine will not only protect them against meningitis and septicaemia but also from carrying and passing on the meningococcal bacteria to others,” said Dr Gordon Sinclair, clinical chair of NHS Leeds West Clinical Commissioning Group.

“We know that some students are nervous about changing to a new GP or don’t have the time to do so when they first arrive in Leeds. However they can register with a Leeds GP and then during the holidays they can temporarily register at their home GP or vice versa.”

Symptoms to look out for include headache, vomiting, muscle pain, fever, cold hands and feet and a rash of tiny red pinpricks which does not disappear when a glass is rolled over it.