We’ve seen relaxing of Covid regulations over the last few months, and with further changes expected in the coming months we’re mixing with others in a way that hasn’t been possible for a while. Whilst this is great news, it does mean that we’re seeing a rise in cases of other infections and illnesses in the student population, and one of these is Meningitis.
Meningococcal disease causes meningitis and/or septicaemia (blood poisoning) and can be very severe.
A free MenACWY vaccine is available to first year students up to the age of 25 through their GP*. This vaccine and knowing the symptoms of meningitis is the best protection against the disease, which can resemble the flu or a hangover and so is often ignored.
* If you’re a second/ third year student and you haven’t yet had the vaccination, speak to your GP to see what your options are.
The MenACWY vaccine is highly effective in preventing the disease, and the spread of the disease – so it is important you get vaccinated to protect yourself and others around you.
Look out for your friends and flatmates
If you think that one of your friends, or someone you live with, seems very unwell and appears to be getting much worse very quickly, make sure you get medical assistance as soon as possible.
Early signs and symptoms of both meningitis and septicaemia can appear very similar to the symptoms of the flu, a stomach bug, or a hangover. Meningitis is an inflammation of the protective layers that surround the brain and spinal cord. The symptoms can include fever, headache, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, muscle pain, stomach cramps and fever with cold hands and feet. Other symptoms include drowsiness, pale, blotchy skin, dislike of bright lights and a rash that doesn’t fade under pressure. For more information see Meningitis Now and Meningitis Research Foundation.
We often think of measles or mumps as childhood illnesses, but if you’re not vaccinated you are still at risk. You can help to protect yourself and stop the spread by checking with your GP that you have had 2 doses of the MMR vaccine and arrange a catch up if not.
And remember, if you haven’t, you can still get your Covid vaccinations at sites across the city.
Register with a GP
If you haven’t registered with a doctor yet, do this as soon as you can if you’ve recently moved to Manchester, or you’ve moved to a different part of the city. You’ll be able to talk to them about getting vaccinated, and if you do get ill, it’ll be much easier to get seen by a doctor quickly. You can find your nearest GP service here.
If you think you or someone around you might be seriously ill, contact the ambulance service on 999.