Inquest into the tragic death of Lauren Sandell

25 Jun 2018
Inquest into the tragic death of Lauren Sandell

At the inquest into the death of 18 year old Lauren Sandell from meningococcal W septicaemia, the coroner today [25 June 2018] concluded that Lauren’s GP practice had failed to meet their contractual obligations as part of the Enhanced Service Specification*, and that Lauren’s death could have been prevented if they had called her in for her vaccine.

The MenACWY vaccination programme was introduced for teenagers and first year university students in 2015 to stop a rapid rise in cases of a new and particularly deadly type of meningitis and septicaemia, known as meningococcal group W disease, or MenW.

Young people going on to university are particularly at risk because they mix with so many other students, some of whom are unknowingly carrying the meningitis bacteria.

Lauren, who lived in Woodford Green in London with her mum, dad and two brothers, tried to get the MenACWY vaccine before she started at the University of Bournemouth in October 2016. Her local GP practice told her that it would take two weeks to get an appointment which meant she went to university without protection from MenW. She had only been there a week and a half before she became ill. Her symptoms were headache, vomiting and some aches and pains. Just 48 hours after the first symptoms she was extremely ill with life threatening septicaemia. The disease took Lauren’s life very quickly.

Determined not to let this happen to anyone else, her mother Sharon Sandell took part in a campaign with Meningitis Research Foundation (MRF) in 2017 to encourage all young people to book their appointment for the free vaccine.

“It’s a tragedy for a young person to die from a disease that is vaccine preventable." Vinny Smith, MRF

Vinny Smith, Chief Executive of MRF said, “It’s a tragedy for a young person to die from a disease that is vaccine preventable. We are deeply saddened by what happened to Lauren and the thoughts and condolences of everyone at MRF are with Lauren’s family and friends.

“We received many calls to our helpline from people who struggled to get the MenACWY vaccine even though they were eligible. Many had not been informed by their GP that they were eligible for the vaccine. With Sharon’s help, MRF has worked to improve communication from public health bodies, local services and GPs. We’ve also campaigned tirelessly to raise awareness of MenW meningitis and the MenACWY vaccine which protects vulnerable young people from the deadly infection. It’s important for all eligible people to get the vaccine to protect themselves.”

The MenACWY vaccine is now routinely offered to children in school at around 14 years of age, but most people in England, Wales and Northern Ireland who left school during 2015 - 2017 and who haven’t yet been vaccinated remain eligible for this vaccination from their GP until the age of 25.

Find out more at Anyone with questions about meningitis and septicaemia can call the free helpline on: 080 8800 3344.


Meningococcal W meningitis and septicaemia: a new, virulent strain in the UK, particularly affecting young adults
Media contact
Holly Edwards - Communications Manager
Tel: 07875 498 047
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