Leeds youngsters urged to get jab

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A health charity is urging the city’s secondary schools and universities to make sure their students are protected against deadly forms of meningitis and septicaemia.

Meningitis Research Foundation’s (MRF) #StoptheSpread campaign aims to get the message out about a jab for young people.

The MenACWY vaccination, which protects against a new form of meningococcal W (MenW), is being offered to adolescents and those under 25 who are going to university for the first time. Cases of MenW have risen year on year in England and Wales since 2009. The ST-11 strain responsible for the rise is associated with more severe illness which often requires treatment in intensive care and has a higher death rate than other strains of meningococcal disease.

MRF chief executive Vinny Smith said: “We launched #StoptheSpread to encourage all teenagers at secondary school and those going to university for the first time to make sure they are protected against this deadly strain of meningitis and septicaemia. Adolescents are more likely to carry meningococcal bacteria than any other age group and offering MenACWY vaccine to this age group will stop the bacteria from being passed on to the wider population. This means that even unvaccinated people will be protected from catching the disease – an effect known as ‘herd protection’. Although we welcome the implementation of the MenACWY vaccine amongst 13 to 18 year-olds over the next couple of years, it will take time for herd protection to be established. So babies, who are particularly vulnerable to developing disease will remain unprotected.”

He said the MenB vaccine Bexsero, available for babies, has been shown to provide protection against Men W ST-11.