New vaccination scheme rolled out

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A new vaccination programme has begun across Scotland after a rise in cases of meningitis W.

Based on advice from the Joint Committee for Vaccination and Immunisation, the MenACWY vaccine has been introduced to replace the MenC vaccine used in adolescent and freshers vaccination programmes.

Dr Tim Patterson, joint director of public health for NHS Borders and Scottish Borders Council, said: MenACWY (meningococcal group A, C, W, Y bacteria) can cause meningitis (inflammation of the lining of the brain) and septicaemia (blood poisoning).

“Meningitis and septicaemia are both very serious as they can cause permanent disability and death.

“Adolescents aged between 14 and 18 are more likely to carry meningococcal bacteria than any other age group and offering the ACWY vaccine to all of them should stop the bacteria from being passed on.”

The vaccine will be offered to students under the age of 25 attending university for the first time this autumn, along with a catch-up programme for all 14- to 18-year-olds.

The MenACWY vaccine was introduced from August 1 for 16- to 18-year-olds who have left school. It will be extended to cover school pupils from S4 to S6 from January 1, 2016, and in autumn next year all S3 pupils will be vaccinated.

Those planning to go to university are urged to make an appointment at least two weeks before they go or, failing that, during freshers’ week for a chance to provide the protection needed.

More details on the vaccine programme are available at www.immunisationscotland.org.uk/menacwy or calling NHS inform helpline on 0800 22 44 88.