Before you go to University, there are lots of things that you need to do to prepare. This summer, you probably have a ‘To Do’ list longer than your arm. But one of things that you do need to do, arguably the most important thing, is to get a meningitis jab.
Meningitis is a very serious disease, which is briefly described as an inflammation of the membranes around the brain and spinal cord. It is caused by a viral or bacterial infection, which is spread by coughing, sneezing, and intimate kissing.
The way meningitis spreads therefore, is one of the main reasons why students are most at risk of contracting meningitis. When moving to University, you are in contact with lots of new people and living in a close proximity. This means colds are spread (the infamous Freshers Flu!) and sometimes, for the lucky, intimate kissing happens!
You have probably had many talks about meningitis and the serious nature of the disease. Hopefully, you’ve been told to book an appointment to have your meningitis jab before University. However, I do understand that it is hard sometimes to remember to get everything done you need to before University. Especially when you’re amid exams and have enough stress surrounding you already. This is what happened to me, I was so busy with exams and figuring out what I was supposed to be doing to prepare for University that the meningitis jab went completely over my head. I am sure that I probably wrote it down somewhere, stating I needed to get it done, but I just never did. Next thing I knew, I was at University, completed unprotected.
Normally, when you move into University, you will sign up to a local GP. These GP’s sometimes ask for a routine nurse appointment to get your information into the surgery system, which includes a blood pressure test at most. During this session, they may notice if you haven’t had a meningitis jab and offer one to you – which is what happened to myself! Only it happened in second year, as my first GP did not require routine nurse appointments. So, for a full year I was unprotected against meningitis, which is extremely dangerous.
It’s important that you do not just rely on herd immunisation (when most people are vaccinated, so no one can contract meningitis to pass it to you). For when people contract meningitis, it can develop quickly and have dire effects. The symptoms to look out for are the following, but not limited to:
– Severe muscle pain
– Severe headache
– Dislike of bright lights
– Stiff neck
– Drowsy/difficult to wake
This is another reason why meningitis is so dangerous and common for students, as many of these symptoms are shared with the average hangover. Thus, students will just brush it off. If you think you, or anyone else has meningitis, you need to seek help straight away.
If you are worried about getting the vaccination, do not worry at all! I was so stressed out about getting my vaccination (finally!) and I have a ton of piercings! But I honestly didn’t even notice the nurse giving me the vaccination and it was done in seconds. 100% worth it, over the risk of contracting meningitis. I just wish I had been organised and got it done sooner. So, here is another friendly reminder for you guys to get your meningitis jab before attending University at the end of this summer! Stay safe.
Please find below some helpful links about meningitis: