Vaccine roll-out could save lives

New shingles vaccination programme
New shingles vaccination programme

A new vaccination programme is being rolled out to protect teenagers from a killer disease.

Herts County Council is welcoming the start of the new MenACWY vaccination programme that will offer protection against meningitis (inflammation of the brain) and septicaemia (blood poisoning) caused by four meningococcal strains, including MenW.

GPs will be inviting youngsters aged 17 and 18 to have the vaccine.

The county council advises anyone who plans to go to university this year to get vaccinated before they leave. This group are at increased risk of getting meningococcal disease, as many of them will be mixing closely with lots of new people at university, some of whom may unknowingly carry the meningococcal bacteria.

All adolescents born in England between September 1 1996 and August 31 1997 are eligible for vaccination, regardless of their future plans.

Cabinet member for public health, Teresa Heritage, said: “Meningitis can be deadly so these vaccinations are very important. It can also leave survivors with severe disabilities.

“We want everyone in Hertfordshire to live healthy long lives so I urge everyone who is offered the vaccination to take up the offer.”

The vaccine is being introduced in response to a rapidly growing increase in cases of a highly aggressive strain of meningococcal disease, group W. Cases of MenW have been increasing year on year, from 22 cases in 2009 to 117 in 2014.

It is currently responsible for around a quarter of all laboratory-confirmed meningococcal cases in England.