Parents of young people aged 17-18 are being urged to make sure their teenager gets the MenACWY vaccine this summer.
The MenACWY vaccine helps protect young people from meningitis (inflammation of the brain covering) and septicaemia (blood poisoning) caused by some strains of meningococcal disease. Every young person in the ‘school year 13’ age range will receive a letter from their GP urging them to attend for the vaccine.
Leony Davies, Specialist Nurse, said: “Up to one in four 15-19 year olds carry meningococcal bacteria that can cause meningitis, and they can do so without any signs or symptoms.”
Bacterial Meningitis is fatal in 1 in 10 cases and 1 in 3 cases who survive are left with life changing disabilities which may include brain damage, sight or hearing loss and scarring or loss of limbs.
All young people born between 1st September 1996 and 31st August 1998 are now eligible to receive the MenACWY vaccine from their GP surgery.
Leony added: “With exams stress the last thing young people may be thinking about is their health. However, cases of meningitis and septicaemia due to Men W disease have been increasing in the UK.
“As parents it is important we help keep our teenagers healthy and making sure they get an appointment for their MenACWY vaccine is just one way we can do this. If your child was eligible last year but didn’t get the vaccine they can still make an appointment with their GP and get vaccinated.”
Last year only one third of teenagers accepted the vaccine in this age group, so many young people remain at risk from the disease.
The vaccine is particularly important for first time university students as mixing with new people and living close together in places like university halls are known to increase the risk of the disease.
Therefore all individuals under 25 years of age who are starting university for the first time this year are also eligible to receive the MenACWY vaccine and are advised to make contact with their GP surgery.
The MenACWY vaccination helps protect against four types of meningococcal bacteria which can cause meningitis. It does not protect against all types so it is still very important to know the signs and symptoms and when to get help as the disease can develop very quickly.
Information on the MenACWY programme and meningococcal disease including signs and symptoms are available from NHS Direct Wales http://www.nhsdirect.wales.nhs.uk/doityourself/vaccinations/ACWY/
Meningitis Now also has a free information pack for parents of young people going to university www.meningitisnow.org/how-we-help/campaigns/uni/supporting-parents/
https://vimeo.com/168789912/c77083ebf8 – watch the video here.