Leeds students must get vaccinated to protect themselves against deadly meningitis this winter, according to Public Health England (PHE).
The heath body says cases of meningococcal disease – that can lead to meningitis and septicaemia (blood poisoning) – peak each year between December and March.
It is an infection that spreads through close contact with people who carry the bacteria so the PHE is urging students to take-up the Men ACWY vaccine before they return to university and halls of residence after Christmas.
Dr Wendy Phillips, deputy director of health protection at PHE Yorkshire and the Humber, said: “Think of it as an early New Year’s resolution and keep yourself and your friends safe by getting vaccinated.
“Meningitis can be deadly and survivors are often left with severe disabilities as a result of this terrible disease.”
PHE’s campaign is being backed by charity Meningitis Now, which says up to a quarter of students carry the bacteria that can cause meningitis compared to one in 10 of the general population. Sue Davie, Meningitis Now chief executive, said: “Their immune systems can be weakened because of living in close confines and coming into close contact, the pressures of studying, lack of sleep, poor diet, partying, cold weather and flu.”
The disease develops rapidly and early symptoms can include headache, vomiting, muscle pain and fever with cold hands and feet. All 17 and 18-year-olds are eligible for a free vaccine, plus first-time university entrants aged 19-25.