South Yorkshire school leavers encouraged to take up vaccines

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Teenagers and students who are eligible for the MMR and meningitis vaccines are being encouraged to ensure they take them up this summer – before heading off to festivals or to university

The first dose of the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine, known as the MMR, is offered to all babies at one year old, and children are given a second dose before they start school.

However, teenagers who only had one dose as young children may not be fully protected against measles, mumps and rubella, and are now being encouraged to visit their GP and have the vaccination.

The Men ACWY vaccination, meanwhile, protects against four different strains of bacteria that cause meningitis and septicaemia. It is currently being offered to all students going to university or college for the first time.

To have the vaccine, prospective students aged up to 25 should contact their GP, ideally before the start of the next academic year.

Councillor Jackie Drayton, cabinet member for children and young people at Sheffield City Council, said: “Across the country there is an increase in the number of cases of measles and mumps. And we know such outbreaks often occur around music festivals, colleges and universities – places where young people gather.

“Transmission of mumps, for example, is usually fuelled by close contact, such as in halls of residence, events and parties, while last year there were more than 50 confirmed cases of measles linked to music and arts festivals in England and Wales.

“I know lots of young people may not be sure if they are up to date with their vaccines. So the message is simple – if you’re not sure, and if you are leaving Year 13 this summer, make an appointment with your GP and have a booster.”

Meningococcal disease, which the MenACWY vaccine protects against, can kill within a matter of hours, while those who recover may be left severely disabled.

Since 2009, there has been a large increase in one kind of meningococcal disease, MenW. Although eligible students may have had a MenC vaccination before, they should still have their free MenACWY vaccine as this gives the extra protection needed.

The MMR vaccine helps protect against measles mumps and rubella and, if not up to date, young people should get this at the same appointment.

Last year there were 52 confirmed measles cases that were known to be linked to music and arts festivals in England and Wales, and half of these cases affected teenagers aged between 15 and 19.

Meanwhile, there are currently several large and serious measles outbreaks across Europe – so young people travelling during the summer break could put themselves at risk if they are not vaccinated.