A deadly strain of MenW (Meningococcal W) disease is rising at an alarming rate in the UK.
The strain is causing meningitis and septicaemia across all age groups especially babies, healthy teenagers and young adults and has a higher death rate associated with it than other strains of meningococcal disease.
Government advisors, the Joint Committee on Vaccinations and Immunisations (JCVI), have concluded that the increase in MenW disease in England and Wales constitutes an outbreak situation. They have advised that a programme to immunise everyone aged 14-18 years of age should be implemented as soon as is practicable in order to generate herd protection against MenW and prevent further rapid increases in disease amongst the rest of the population.
Public Health England is urgently trying to procure sufficient MenACWY vaccine to vaccinate those currently in Year 13 over the summer and is therefore asking GPs to delay the current MenC Freshers programme due to start in April
until the MenACWY vaccine becomes available. This will avoid the need to revaccinate this group to provide additional protection against MenW. Health professionals are also urged to remain vigilant to the signs and symptoms of meningococcal disease and keep a high index of suspicion for the MenW strain.Read more about the rise in MenW disease