Preventative meningitis vaccination programme run on campus for first time

A preventative meningitis vaccine programme for new students is being offered at our University for the first time. It follows research conducted by the University itself, in partnership with the University of Nottingham, and published in the academic journal Public Health, that found offering MenACWY vaccination as students arrive at a University is a really effective way of maximising protection of this vulnerable age group.

The Victoria Park Health Centre is offering the vaccination programme for all new students who register with the practice.

Dr Chris Bayliss (pictured) from our Department of Genetics and Genome Biology, said: "A high uptake of the MenACWY vaccine will help to protect first year university students and the wider community against meningitis and septicaemia caused by meningococcal bacteria particularly this new hypervirulent MenW strain."

In England, cases of meningitis caused by the Meningococcal serogroup W (MenW) bacteria have been rapidly increasing since 2009 due to the emergence of a highly aggressive ST-11 strain. The illnesses associated with this strain are often severe with a frequent requirement for treatment in intensive care and a higher death rate than other meningococcal strains.

Dr Bayliss warned that this campaign is intended to augment the national campaign and students should take up MenACWY immunization prior to arrival at University as a protective response takes between two and four weeks to develop. This vaccine will also not protect against MenB strains of Neisseria meningitidis and students will need to maintain vigilance with regard to signs and symptoms of meningitis and septicaemia.

The immunization programme is being offered between September 27-29 to freshers by the Victoria Park Health Centre and hosted by the University.

Samantha Rogers, from Victoria Park Health Centre, said: “Anyone born between 1st September 1996 and 31st August 1999 can go to their registered GP for vaccination. In addition, people coming to University for the first time who are under 25 should also be vaccinated with Men ACWY. Please note that the previous Men C Vaccine does not cover the new virulent strains of Meningitis.

“It is important that you are vaccinated as early as possible. Please don’t delay.

“If students are already a patient at Victoria Park Health Centre and meet the above criteria, please call us to arrange an appointment or ask at the reception desk. Please don’t re-Register on campus to get it during these sessions as this could cause long term confusion with your medical records.”

In line with most other universities, the University of Leicester uses advertising to raise awareness of meningitis and to recommend vaccination prior to starting or on arrival at the campus. In addition, all new students are contacted prior to arrival at the University of Leicester with information about the need for the MenACWY vaccine and how to get vaccinated. This includes their local GP before leaving for University or with one of the local Health Centre’s who work closely with the University to support Student health and wellbeing.