As thousands of students prepare to start college and university, health experts in Glasgow are urging them to check their vaccinations are up-to-date.
Students who did not receive their MMR as a child are top of the list according to NHSGGC’s Director of Public Health, but those who have not had a vaccination against potentially deadly meningitis also need to take urgent action.
Dr Linda de Caestecker said: “We are particularly concerned this year, as those who were babies when the completely unfounded fears around the MMR vaccine were at their highest, are now about 18-19 and potentially going to university for the first time.
“While uptake in Scotland didn’t really drop below 86%, some areas of England, particularly London were around 60-70%. This means that many students coming here could be at risk of spreading measles, mumps or rubella to unvaccinated students here too.
“Only two years ago there was a measles outbreak amongst students in Edinburgh so this, combined with a measles outbreak in Europe at the moment, means we are urging young people to find out if they got their two doses of MMR and if not get it now. This offers almost complete, life-long protection against these infections.
“Anyone in this category needs to seek advice from their GP.”
Meningitis is another infection which new students need to ensure they are protected from. A vaccination programme in schools means most students will be covered already but those who missed it need to make sure they get the Meningitis ACWY jag.
Dr de Caestecker said: “Again uptake of the vaccine was much lower south of the border, at about 50%, compared with about 80% in Scotland so there is an increased risk with new students coming into the city.
“University life, with lots of young people coming together from different areas, parties and socialising, is the perfect breeding ground for these infections to be spread. Let’s not forget that meningitis can kill and kill quickly, so it really is vital young people check to see they are protected.”
NHSGGC advice to those who think they might be at risk is to register with a local GP and seek advice from them.
For further information either telephone 0141 201 4429 or email [email protected].