- Teenagers have been offered MenACWY vaccination against meningitis and septicaemia since 2015
- The vaccine is proving its worth in preventing a dangerous new MenW strain in that age group
- The government’s expert vaccination advisers have recommended that the MenACWY vaccination, which was introduced as an emergency, should become part of the routine adolescent vaccination programme
Meningitis Research Foundation (MRF) welcomes the news that the UK government’s expert vaccination advisers, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has found that the teenage MenACWY vaccination programme is reducing cases of meningitis and septicaemia due to a deadly new strain of MenW and should become part of the routine adolescent vaccination programme.
Since August 2015, 14 to 18 years olds in the UK have been offered the MenACWY vaccine due to a rapid rise in this dangerous strain.
The school vaccination programme has been a real success with over 70% take-up of the vaccine. In contrast however, only around 35% of school leavers have taken advantage of the free MenACWY vaccination from their GP.
The good news is that cases of MenW are declining in 15-19 year olds since the vaccination programme began. However, this deadly strain is still rising in other age groups and is now rocketing up in other European countries as well.
Teenagers are at increased risk of meningitis and septicaemia as they are more likely to come into contact with the bacteria than other age groups, and are also more likely to carry the bacteria. Getting vaccinated protects them against this deadly disease, and also stops them from carrying and spreading it amongst the wider population.
However the continuing rise in cases of MenW in other age groups means that protection for the whole population has yet to be achieved, and underlines the importance of the vaccine.
Eligible young people should get the MenACWY vaccine to protect themselves and to help stop the spread of the disease to others. Younger teenagers will be offered the vaccination through their schools, and year 13s in England, the last group to ‘catch up’ with the vaccine, will be offered it from their GP starting in April.