Fresher’s week is upon us. That means so is the big move. For weeks you will have been preparing for this next step; that bottom drawer will now be being called into use. New pots, plates, bowls and cutlery. New bed linens, pillows, soaps, shampoos and towels. But what you won’t have packed, is the insurance that you are safe from some of the most dangerous infections and illnesses.

The advice offered by Public Health England is that all students heading off to university should be protected against strains of the meningococcal bacteria (MenACWY), measles, mumps, rubella (MMR), tetanus and polio. These vaccinations were not seen to be as important before 2003 as they have proven to be in previous years, meaning that as many as 1 in 5 young adults may not have been vaccinated against the meningococcal bacteria strain or the diseases that the MMR vaccination protects.

There have been a number of measles cases been reported in England, from January 1st to August 13th 2018, and 828 cases confirmed by laboratory findings. This is alongside an outbreak in Europe and the rest of the UK. Measles is a virus that can lead to hospital admissions in the worst cases, and in other cases, can lead to severe complications, such as pneumonia or seizures. For the sake of a vaccination, the risk of contraction becomes considerably reduced.

Meningococcal bacterium is found in four more deadly strains; A, C, W, Y. The W strain is particularly dangerous for young adults, and is offered to year 9 and 10 students, at the ages of 14-15. It can cause, amongst other illnesses, meningitis and septicaemia. Being in close proximity with fellow students can exacerbate the spread of such illnesses, and so having that vaccination early, can help to prevent the worst scenarios from occurring.

The NHS offer any under 25 free MenACWY and MMR vaccinations if they have not already been vaccinated.  Contact your GP to find out if you are unsure if you have been vaccinated, and for further information on the vaccines and services that they offer.

If you do present any symptoms of either of these illnesses, seek medical advice immediately. For more information, and websites cited, follow the following links:

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/measles/complications/

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vaccinations/men-acwy-vaccine/

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/freshers-urged-to-get-menacwy-and-mmr-vaccines-before-start-of-term

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