Exams results are in, and many fresh-faced students will be starting university in the autumn. However, UK Health Security Agency has issued a frightening warning for those about to begin their studies. The Independent has reported that concerns are rising over young people skipping out on jabs that will prevent them from getting ill and could even save their lives.
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What diseases could students catch?
Students heading to university for the first time will find themselves in a place where they are mixing with lots of people who have come from all over the world. They are at risk of meningitis and blood poisoning (septicaemia), as well as measles, mumps and rubella. Students are likely to mix in more ways than one - ahem - and may also therefore be exposed to HPV.
What should students do?
The UKHSA is stressing that the diseases they are speaking about are preventable. Students simply need to get vaccinated before they scoot off to their university adventure. The good news is that the necessary vaccines - MenACWY, MMR and HPV - are free for most people in this situation. In the UK, you can access them through your GP until your 25th birthday.
Statistics from the UKHSA show that 13% of young adults have not yet had their MenACWY jab, and this is causing concern. Experts also want young people to recognise the signs of these common diseases so they can seek medical advice for themselves or a friend if needed.
The signs to look out for
The UKHSA is pushing for students to know what to look out for when it comes to meningitis and septicaemia. Here’s a run-down from the NHS:
- a high temperature
- cold hands and feet
- breathing quickly
- muscle and joint pain
- pale, mottled or blotchy skin (this may be harder to see on brown or black skin)
- spots or a rash (this may be harder to see on brown or black skin)
- a stiff neck
- a dislike of bright lights
- being very sleepy or difficult to wake
- fits (seizures)
Dr Shamez Ladhani, a UKHSA consultant epidemiologist, explains that each year students ‘get seriously ill, with some tragically dying’ because they are not up-to-date with their immunisations.
Here’s his advice:
Ensuring you are protected against these deadly bugs is vital. If you’ve missed out on your Meningitis (MenACWY), HPV or MMR jabs then contacting your GP for the vaccine should be top of your list of urgent things to do before starting college or university.
The Independent: Unvaccinated students in UK face risk of deadly infection as ‘some tragically dying’