Students heading to university in the next few weeks are being urged to get vaccinated against meningococcal C (MenC) infection.

Dudley Council’s Office of Public Health is advising all freshers to book an appointment with their GP, before they leave for university, to receive a Meningitis C (MenC) vaccine booster to protect them against the disease.

In the UK, all children are offered the vaccine to protect them against MenC infection but as this protection decreases over time, a booster for teenagers was launched last year. For the next few years, university freshers who have not had the booster in their teens will be eligible for this vaccination.

MenC is a rare but life-threatening disease which occurs mainly in children and young adults. Students starting university and mixing with many new people, some of whom may unknowingly carry the meningococcal bacteria, are at risk of infection.

Councillor Rachel Harris, cabinet member for health, said:

“This is an exciting time for students making their final preparations before heading to university for the first time and they’ve a lot to think about. But it’s important they take the time to make an appointment with their GP to get protected against this disease.

“Most children will have had the MenC as a child but, as immunity decreases over time, it’s important new university students get their booster now.”

Ideally, freshers should have the MenC vaccination at least two weeks before starting university. However, if this is not possible and the student is going to study away from home, it can also be arranged via the university or college health centre or GP. If young people or parents are unsure when the last Men C vaccine was given they can check with their GP; if in doubt , there is no harm in having an extra dose.

The MenC booster is available to any student born after September 1995 who is entering university for the first time and who received the MenC vaccine under the age of ten, or any student of any age entering or already at university who is unvaccinated against MenC disease.  Anyone born before September 1995 and who received the MenC vaccination at secondary school will not need another dose.