Meningitis is due to inflammation of the covering of the brain and nervous tissue. It can occur after being infected by types of bacteria called Meningococci. There are several types of Meningococci but the common ones are Men A, B, C, W, Y. These bacterial can live in the nasal passages of children, adults but especially young adults who can spread them by coughing and sneezing. The Infection can cause significant complications and even death. Complications can be permanent and include hearing loss, memory issues, seizures and limb amputations. The highest risk occurs in very young children and teenagers/ university students as they spend lots of time together. Similarly when travelling to areas over the world like Africa and Latin America, the risk rises especially where travellers are spending time together visiting friends/ relatives or attending mass gatherings like pilgrimages ( Hajj/ Umra)
Meningitis ACWY vaccine is offered free via the NHS to 14 year olds and first year University students. Others require vaccination for visa purposes ( Hajj/ Umra) whilst others are recommended vaccination if travelling to higher risk areas or attending mass gatherings. The vaccine is well tolerated and boosting is required only every 3-5 years.