NHS programme to stop meningitis spread

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde are pulling out all the stops to ensure students and young people are protected from meningitis.

The vaccination programme is designed to ensure that as many young adults are protected from the deadly new strain of the disease, meningococcal W (MenW).

NHSGGC liaised with all universities across Greater Glasgow and Clyde in August 2015 to raise awareness and encourage first time university entrants, under the age of 25, to visit their GP and be vaccinated prior to starting university.

There was an additional reminder in January 2016 given that any student within the eligible group that has not yet been vaccinated can be at their GP until the end of March

In addition, 2014/15 S4-S6 schools leavers have been written to inviting them to attend their GP practice to be vaccinated, this is also available until March 31.

Meningococcal bacteria have always been the leading cause of life-threatening meningitis and septicaemia in the UK.

Six different kinds, serogroups A, B, C, W, X, and Y, cause the most disease worldwide.

For decades meningococcal B has caused most cases of the disease in the UK. Meningococcal C was also common until the MenC vaccine was introduced, reducing cases to just a handful each year.

But cases of MenW have risen year on year in Scotland. Health Protection Scotland figures show that in the five years 2009-2013 cases of MenW were relatively rare in Scotland ranging from one to four cases per year.

This increased to five cases in 2014, and 15 in the first 43 weeks of 2015, accounting for 25 per cent of all meningococcal cases reported to date.

The ST-11 strain responsible for the rise is associated with more severe illness which often requires treatment in intensive care and has a higher death rate than other strains of meningococcal disease, 13 per cent compared to 5-10 per cent for other strains.

Further information on the vaccination programme is available from www.immunisationscotland.org.uk