1. ITV Report

Students urged to get meningitis vaccination as cases of potentially deadly strain soar

Pupils urged to get meningitis vaccination as cases soar Photo:

A Bristol mum is backing the advice to students to get vaccinated against meningitis before heading to university. Michelle Bresnahan's 16 year old son Ryan contracted the infection and died within hours in 2010.

Today students going to university this autumn are being urged to get a vaccine against meningitis as a deadly strain is on the rise.

Ryan was healthy and energetic. But one night during the Easter holidays he began to feel ill. A day later he was dead.

Michelle's charity - A Life for a Cure - has raised over £400,000 for meningitis research. But six years on from Ryan's death, experts are worried about a 'highly aggressive strain of Meninigtis W which is on the rise.

people got meningitis W in 2009
got meninigitis W in the last 12 months

It's fatal in 1 in 10 cases. There is a free vaccine - called ACWY. GPs are writing to school leavers to encourage them to get vaccinated, whether they are going to university or not.

"Since 2009, there has been a rapid increase in cases of MenW across England, with students particularly at risk.

"Protecting young people from this potentially deadly disease as they embark upon one of the most important periods of their lives is vitally important. The vaccination will save lives and prevent lifelong devastating disability.

"We are encouraging all eligible 17 and 18-year-olds who have just left school to get vaccinated - particularly those heading to college or university.

"Young people and those around them should be alert to the signs and symptoms of meningitis and septicaemia. Get vaccinated as soon as possible, remain vigilant and seek urgent medical help if you have concerns for yourself or friends."

– Dr Mary Ramsay, head of immunisation at PHE

Bath Spa University wants to make sure its students have got the message. They've told ITV News that when they send out a welcome letter to new students they are advised to get vaccinated before arriving, but they also off the vaccinations at their Medical Centre. They've also told us they've got posters in every kitchen in student accommodation and follow up the campaign at Christmas.

Ryan Bresnahan's mother Michelle says having the vaccination is the only way to protect yourself: