Torbay Council’s Public Health Team is raising awareness of Meningococcal W meningitis and an imminent immunisation programme for 14-18 year olds.

Executive Lead for Health and Wellbeing, Cllr Derek Mills, said: “Cases of meningococcal W disease are rising steeply in England and Wales, the rise is due to a particularly virulent ST-11 strain which is causing severe disease in healthy teenagers and young adults.

“These cases are associated with a higher than usual death rate of 13% and UK Government advisers have advised that 14-18 year olds be immunised with the ACWY vaccine as soon as is practicable to prevent further increases in disease amongst the wider population.”

17 and 18 year olds born between 1st September 1996 and 31st August 1997 and new starters at university under the age of 25 will be immunised first as they are most risk. Eligible 17-18 year olds will be contacted by their GP and can be immunised from 1st August 2015. New starters at university older than 18 but younger than 25 are also eligible to receive the vaccine through their GP, but will not be contacted by their GP about making an appointment.

The MenC booster for 14 year olds will be directly replaced with MenACWY as of September 2015. A catch up programme to vaccinate teenagers aged 14-17 who are not due the adolescent booster will take place over the next two years, although the catch up will be completed within one year in Scotland.

Babies will not be immunised with ACWY, but the MenB vaccine, Bexsero, which will provide protection against this ST-11 strain.

For further information visit www.meningitis.org/menw

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