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Student nurses urged to have new meningitis jab

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Students are being urged to get vaccinated ahead of a predicted spike in meningococcal disease, which can lead to potentially deadly meningitis and blood poisoning.

The call from Public Health England (PHE) follows the introduction of the MenACWY vaccination programme in August.

All young people aged 18 and 19 are eligible for the free jab, which offers protection against four strains of the disease.

PHE figures show cases of meningococcal disease, which is spread through ongoing close contact with people unwittingly carrying the bacteria, peak each year during winter from December to March.

So the body is urging students – including student nurses – to get vaccinated during their university break before they return to busy halls and lecture theatres.

The jab was brought in this year due to a rapid increase in cases of a highly aggressive strain of group W meningococcal disease – MenW. Cases have risen year on year from 22 in 2009-10 to 176 in 2014-15.

Joanne Yarwood, national immunisation programme manager at PHE, said encouraging teenagers to get vaccinated could save lives.

“We must all remain alert to the signs and symptoms of meningococcal disease and seek urgent medical attention if there is any concern,” she added.

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