Local MP calls for greater Meningitis vaccine take-up
Jim Fitzpatrick MP is taking a leading role in a campaign to help protect young people’s health in Poplar and Limehouse.
He has signed up to promote meningitis awareness and vaccine take-up with GPs following a Parliamentary reception organised by charity Meningitis Now.
The charity is campaigning to increase the take-up of the lifesaving Men ACWY vaccine, which is available free to first-time university students up to the age of 25.
Jim said: “The low uptake of the Men ACWY vaccine among this at-risk group of young people is very worrying.
“I don’t want to see anyone in my constituency dying because they didn’t know about or didn’t get around to getting this vaccination.
“As we enter the peak season for bacterial meningitis I’ll be writing to local GP practices and university leaders to urge them to do more to promote awareness and encourage improved take-up.”
Following an increase of 809 per cent in meningococcal (group W) meningitis cases in the past five years around the country, Government launched a vaccination programme to protect young people aged 14 to 15 through schools and those aged 17 to 18 and first-year students up to 25 through GPs and clinics.
Despite the increasing risk to students and the recent deaths of a number of them across the UK, the uptake of the Men ACWY vaccine within this vulnerable age group remains very low, with just 17.4 per cent taking up the vaccine in England, and similar levels across Wales and Northern Ireland.
Jim has pledged to support the charity in its awareness-raising work and will be writing to GPs and university leaders locally to encourage them to do more to persuade young people to take up the vaccination.
“It is vitally important that students protect themselves with the Men ACWY vaccine and learn the signs and symptoms of the disease,” Jim added. “It only takes a few minutes and it could save theirs or their friend’s life.”
Liz Brown, chief executive of Meningitis Now, said: “We welcome Jim Fitzpatrick’s strong stand and support in persuading GPs to encourage students to protect themselves.”
Up to a quarter of students carry the bacteria that can cause meningitis compared to one in ten of the general population. Over 12 per cent of all cases occur in the 14 to 24 age group, with first year students being at particular risk.
Meningitis Now, in its 30th anniversary year this year, is working towards a future where no one in the UK loses their life to meningitis and everyone affected gets the support they need.
It does this by funding research into vaccines and prevention, raising awareness so people know what to look for and what action to take if they suspect meningitis and rebuilding futures by providing dedicated support to people living with the impact of the disease.
For more information on meningitis and the work of Meningitis Now visit: www.meningitisnow.org