South Yorkshire teenagers are being urged to get vaccinated against a deadly strain of meningitis following a significant rise in the number of cases.
UK charity Meningitis Now is encouraging young people to protect themselves after an increase of 809 per cent in meningococcal (group W) meningitis cases in the past five years.
A new vaccination programme, called the Men ACWY vaccine, is now available for people aged between 14 and 15 and is being provided through school vaccination drives.
However, those aged 17 and 18 can also receive it from their GP through special catch up programmes.
Wombwell and Darfield MP Michael Dugher is urging Dearne youngsters to get vaccinated after it was revealed that uptake remains low in Barnsley and the surrounding region.
Just 17 per cent – one in six – 17 and 18-year-olds are receiving the vaccine across the South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw NHS area.
Mr Dugher said: “The rapid increase in the number of meningitis W cases in recent years is very concerning – particularly for young people who are most vulnerable.
“That’s why it is so important that 17 and 18 year olds in Barnsley receive the Men ACWY vaccine through their GP catch up programme if they haven’t had it already at school.
“It’s also really important to know the signs of meningitis – which can range from headaches, muscle pain or fever – and charities like Meningitis Now do essential work raising awareness of this.”
Liz Brown, chief executive of Meningitis Now, also urged youngsters to receive the vaccine.
She added: “We welcome Michael’s support in calling on young people in Barnsley to get the Men ACWY vaccine.
“Young people, especially those attending university for the first time should, if they haven’t done so already, take immediate action to protect themselves from this dangerous meningitis bug.
“The vaccination is free and available through GP practices for 17-18 year olds.”
For more information visit https://www.meningitisnow.org/