05 August 2015
Young people going to university for the first time in 2015 are being urged to get a new vaccine against the potentially lethal meningococcal W disease.
Free vaccination sessions will help protect those who have turned 18 during the past school year, particularly those who will shortly leave Jersey to commence further education courses.
Meningitis is an infection of the lining of the brain, and can be associated with septicaemia. In the latter case it can be life-threatening unless diagnosed and treated very early.
Medical Officer of Health, Dr Susan Turnbull, said "I am very pleased that we are in a position to offer protection against this relatively new health threat, starting with those who would be most at risk. Since 2009, and particularly in the last two years, there has been a steep rise in the number of cases of meningococcal W (MenW) disease in the UK.
"Men W hasn’t been seen yet in Jersey, but experience tells us it is only a matter of time before diseases circulating in the UK arrive here and the intention is to take effective preventative measures before that happens."
During August/September 2015, the vaccine will be offered to all Islanders born between 1 September 1996 and 31 August 1997. Everyone in this age group is advised to have the vaccine, even if they are not planning to go away to university this year (for instance, if starting a gap year or taking up a job in Jersey). Any other young people about to go to university for the first time, but who are not in the specified age range, should have the vaccine (for instance,if they are coming to the end of a gap year).
Drop-in vaccination sessions
Three ‘drop-in’ vaccination sessions will take place at St Paul’s Centre – which can be accessed via New Street or Dumaresq Street in St Helier – on the following dates:
Monday 17 August 2015, 10am to 12noon
Thursday 20 August 2015, 10am to 12noon
Thursday 3 September 2015, 10am to 12noon
There’s no need to book an appointment – students just need to turn up. It will be helpful if students bring ID showing their date of birth or, if they are older and about to start university, documentation confirming their course title and start date.
Head of Healthcare Programmes, Dr Linda Diggle, said "It’s important that anyone who plans to go to university this year for the first time gets vaccinated, ideally at least two weeks before they leave, because they will be mixing closely with lots of new people, some of whom may unknowingly be carrying the meningococcal bacteria."
Parents are asked not to send younger year group students to the St Paul's Centre sessions, as they'll be turned away. This is because further supplies of vaccine are expected over the coming months and the first priority must be to protect freshers before they start university. During the coming school term, the vaccine will be offered to year groups 9, 10, 11, 12 and 13. Parents of these year groups will be contacted via their child's school regarding the date the vaccine will be offered in school.
Information about the vaccination programme will be distributed to students on collection of their A level results next week