A THORNBURY-based charity is urging students to get a life-saving meningitis vaccine before heading off to university next month.

Meningitis Research Foundation (MRF) is warning students to take up use of a booster vaccine aimed specifically at students going into further education.

Currently all children in the UK are vaccinated against Meningococcal C (MenC) infection. Since the MenC vaccine was introduced in the UK in 1999, an estimated 150 lives have been saved each year and cases are now very rare but protection does not last as long as expected so the UK Government has launched a booster campaign for students entering university for the first time.

Christopher Head, chief executive of Meningitis Research Foundation, said: “Vaccine research to ensure effective protection against this deadly disease has long been a top funding priority for MRF, and we welcome the government’s new MenC booster campaign.

“New students are at increased risk of encountering the bacteria that cause meningococcal disease because they are often living in busy halls of residence and in close contact with other new students during fresher’s week.”

The MenC booster is available to all students born after September 1995 entering university for the first time, and anyone under age 25 who has never had a MenC vaccination. Students should get immunised at least two weeks before they go away to study.

The charity also wants under-graduates to ensure they know the signs and symptoms, as some kinds of meningitis can’t be prevented. Meningitis and septicaemia can kill in hours and leave many survivors with serious disability.

For more information go to www.meningitis.org