Meningitis vaccination plan for Hampshire schoolchildren

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Students in all Hampshire secondary schools are to be offered the meningitis ACWY vaccine from January 2018.

NHS England said there is ‘strong evidence that providing immunization in schools increases uptake’.

Hampshire is one of 19 out of 152 local authority areas where not all children receive the vaccine through school. Children in the north of the county can get the jab from school nurses, while those in the south are offered the jab through GP surgeries.

The remaining 18 areas in England offer the vaccine either through GP practices or via a similar mixed model involving schools and GP practices.

The Meningitis Research Foundation has described ‘a rapid rise in a new and particularly deadly strain of meningococcal meningitis and septicaemia (Men W)’.

One in 10 cases of meningitis W infection is fatal, and the disease can lead to long-term health problems such as deafness, epilepsy and amputations.

The Men ACWY vaccine protects against the A, C, Y and W strains of the disease, all of which can cause death or disability.

Head of Research at the foundation, Linda Glennie, welcomed the move and said uptake of the vaccine ‘has been worryingly low’ among older teenagers offered the jab for free from their GP.

‘It's good news that the NHS in Wessex will now offer adolescent vaccines through schools,’ she said.

‘Uptake of Men ACWY vaccine via the school route has been as high as 84% in some areas.’

Last year Public Health England urged all young people to get vaccinated before starting university, as their risk of infection is particularly high.