UK teenagers to get meningitis vaccine as Britain faces ‘public health emergency’

From August, all 17 and 18-year-olds will be offered a combined vaccine that protects against meningococcal A,C,W and Y (MenACWY) disease. The vaccine is particularly important for those preparing to leave home for university, who are at greater risk of contracting the disease.

Older students aged 19 to 25 starting university this year will also be offered the vaccine. From spring next year there will also be a school-based vaccination programme for MenACWY, which will replace the present vaccine currently offered to 12 to 14-year-olds.

There will be a catch-up programme for those aged 15 and 16. In total, three million teenagers will be offered the immunisation in a bid to prevent transmission of a “highly aggressive” sub-type of the disease, following a five-fold rise in the number of cases of meningitis W.

It follows advice published by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation in March, which warned that “levels of disease were consistent with an outbreak situation with cases and deaths occurring in all age ranges, constituting a public health emergency”.