Students urged to get vaccinated against life-threatening diseases before Freshers Week

Students attending universities in September for freshers’ week are urged to get vaccinated against life-threatening diseases

Students are being urged to get vaccinated and protect themselves from life-threatening diseases before Freshers Week.

For new-starters or returning students, there is a higher risk of contracting meningitis, septicaemia and measles, according to The UK Health Security Agency.

Dr Shamez Ladhani, Consultant Epidemiologist at UKHSA, said: “We know that colleges and universities can be hotspots for the spread of diseases such as meningitis and measles.”

The three vaccines students should get up to date with are:

  • MenACWY – protecting against four common strains causing meningitis and septicaemia
  • MMR – protecting against measles, mumps, rubella
  • HPV (for female students) – protecting against cervical and other cancers caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV) together with genital warts

What are the symptoms to look out for?

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Meningitis and septicaemia can develop quickly with symptoms including a blotchy rash, fever, headache, aching muscles and joints and a stiff neck. Alongside these symptoms, strains such as MenW can cause vomiting or diarrhoea.

In 2015, the UK started administering routine vaccines against MenB for infants, however university students are likely to have not received the vaccine.

Meningitis Now chief executive, Dr Tom Nutt, said: “It’s vital that young people take up the opportunity to get vaccinated against MenACWY while at school.

“In addition, very few young people will have been vaccinated against MenB, which is the strain that causes the most cases of bacterial meningitis in the UK.

Measles is a highly infectious disease that can be severe amongst teenagers and young adults. Symptoms include high temperature and red-brown blotchy rash. If unchecked, severe cases often result in a hospital admission.

HPV does not typically reveal many symptons but it is important to look out for painless growths or lumps around your vagina, penis or anus (genital warts).

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Mumps is a virus that most notably causes the swelling of the parotid gland. Other symptoms to look out for with mumps are headaches, joint pains; nausea; tiredness; dry mouth and a loss of appetite.

Symptoms of rubella are similar to Mumps, with a spotty rash that is rough to touch, swollen glands in your neck, aching fingers, wrists, or knees and a high temperature.

How to check if you’re already vaccinated

Anyone who is unsure as to what their vaccination status is are advised to check with their GP practice.

Through this, you will be able to arrange any missed vaccinations and appointments.

If you are unsure as to what GP you are registered with, or are not registered with one, please visit the official NHS website.