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Meningitis vaccinations

What is meningitis?

Meningitis is an infection of the protective membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord. It is very serious, can develop quickly and, in some cases, can be fatal.

Viral meningitis is rarely serious and is not helped by antibiotics. Bacterial meningitis is less common than viral meningitis, but is a serious illness and needs urgent treatment with antibiotics. The most common of the bacteria that cause meningitis is the meningococcus. These bacteria can also cause blood poisoning (septicaemia), which is the more serious form of the disease.

Who should have the vaccination?

  • All freshers (students attending university for the first time) under the age of 25 are eligible to have a Meningitis ACWY vaccination unless they have already had one after the age of 10.
  • Students under 25 years old who have never had any meningitis vaccine (Meningitis C, Meningitis AC or Meningitis ACWY) are eligible to have the Meningitis ACWY vaccine.
  • If students are not sure if they are eligible, they are encouraged to check with their GP.

When should I get the vaccination?

Students should ideally be vaccinated at least 2 weeks before their arrival at the university. This is to allow time for immunity to develop.

If you have not had your vaccination by the time you arrive, the Ridgmount Practice (UCL's partner GP surgery) will be able to provide this, as long as you are eligible to register there.

If you are an international student under the age of 25, you are advised to have the Meningitis ACWY vaccination in your home country if possible, ideally at least 2 weeks before you arrive in the UK.