Calling all students – add vaccines to your to do list before heading off to University

Following yesterday’s A-Level results many students will now be busy getting ready to head off to university…but one thing many students forget to sort before they leave home is their vaccinations.

To make sure students get the most of their university experience and not become seriously ill, Cornwall Council’s Wellbeing and Public Health team are encouraging young people have the meningitis and measles jabs before they leave home.

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It’s not all about leaving home, even if a young person is continuing their studies from home it’s still important for them to be covered too.

With lots of people in confined environments and close mixing, universities and colleges, halls of residence or even in hostels while off travelling, can all be hot spots for measles and meningococcal disease as they present the perfect opportunity for the infection to spread.

Measles is a highly infectious viral illness that can sometimes lead to serious complications and can be fatal in very rare cases.

The best protection against measles is to ensure young people have had two doses of Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) vaccination. We know that some students of university/college age may have missed out on their MMR when they were younger as MMR uptake was as low as 80% in 2003. This means that many young people remain unprotected and so we are seeing measles cases in young people over the age of 15.

Alongside the MMR vaccine, it is also important to remind students (and freshers in particular) to get the MenACWY vaccine which protects against meningitis and septicaemia (blood poisoning) – which can both be fatal.

Denis Cronin, Public Health Consultant for Cornwall Council’s Wellbeing and Public Health Team said: “While students are rushing to get ready for the next big steps in their life, getting injections is often over looked. Young people are particularly vulnerable to these infections and are also far more likely to spend time together in large groups which provides the perfect conditions for spreading of infections. Anyone who feels unwell should let friends know and call 111 if they recognise any of the symptoms”.

Dr Iain Chorlton, from NHS Kernow Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “This time of the year is always an exciting time for many students. They’ve picked up their A-level results and then thinking about their new lives at university and the fun of Freshers’ Week but it’s really important that to make sure that either before you leave or as soon as you arrive at university and register with a doctor that you get the MenACWY vaccine and protect yourselves against this potentially deadly infection. So put protecting yourself against meningitis should be on you ‘to do list’ along with buying your pots and pans and new books.”

If students don’t manage to have vaccinations done before they leave home, they should register with GP while at university where they will be able to have the vaccinations.

Story posted 17 August.