Survivor urges teenagers to have meningitis vaccine

PUBLISHED: 09:03 13 July 2017

Sophie Coghlan.

Sophie Coghlan.

Archant

A Nailsea woman who survived meningitis is appealing for teenagers to get vaccinated against it before heading to university.

Sophie Coghlan contracted meningitis at the age of 12 and spent two weeks in intensive care at Bristol Children’s Hospital.

She made a full recovery and is now on a mission to raise awareness of the symptoms of the deadly disease.

Sophie, who is now 23, is encouraging people to have the Men ACWY vaccine before going to college and university.

She said: “It’s great the vaccination is being rolled out for people starting university.

“It might not be very high on people’s lists, but it should be.

“At university you meet lots of different people and you’re burning the candle at both ends so you’re immune system takes a bit of a battering and things like this can spread like wildfire.

“Students are really vulnerable to it so it’s a good idea to get the word out about the vaccines before they join in September.”

Sophie’s appeal coincides with Public Health England’s campaign to increase vaccination rates among young people.

The free Men ACWY vaccine has been offered to 17 and 18-year-olds, and university entrants aged 19-25, since August 2015.

However, cases of meningitis in adolescents are rising and only one third of people eligible have had the vaccine.

Tom Nutt, chief executive at Meningitis Now, said: “Teenagers are the second most at risk group of contracting meningitis after babies and toddlers and up to a quarter of students carry the bacteria that can cause meningitis compared to one in ten of the general population.

“More than 17 per cent of all cases occur in the 14 to 24 age group, with first-year students being at particular risk.

“We remain deeply concerned about the low level of vaccine uptake – just 33 per cent last year, which remains disappointingly below the 2015 uptake rate of 38 per cent. It’s vital young people and their parents are not complacent about the threat of meningitis – we urge them to take up this lifesaving vaccine.”

People who are eligible should contact their GP.


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