Fresher’s Week is just around the corner, and whilst you may have bought your books and some funky items to decorate your room with, you may not yet have considered your health. Making sure that all your vaccinations are up to date is important when you head off to university, as new environments with lots of different people could mean that illnesses and viruses spread easily. Check to see which vaccinations are recommended and book an appointment to make sure you’re up to date.
There have been a number of recent outbreaks of Meningitis W at universities in the UK. Meningitis W can be deadly, as well as cause a number of long term effects for survivors. Students are being urged by Public Health England and by universities across the country to ensure that they get vaccinated before they attend. The latest meningitis vaccine, Men ACWY was initially launched last year and can be obtained free from your doctor if you are aged 17-18, or a student under the age of 25.
MMR (Measles, Mumps, Rubella)
You should be familiar with the MMR vaccine from when you were younger. It is recommended that young adults receive two doses of the vaccine to provide the most effective protection. Most universities now recommend that new students have the two doses, especially with increased cases of both mumps and measles at universities. This can also be obtained from your GP.
Diphtheria, Tetanus and Polio
You should have received these vaccinations around the age of 14, but if you haven’t had them or you’re unsure, you should speak to your GP to find out. These diseases are now quite uncommon in the UK, but as that is largely due to an effective vaccination programme, it is still important that you receive these vaccinations.
TB is a bacterial infection which can be serious, although curable with the right treatment. As it is an infection which affects the lungs, it can cause lasting damage, which is why a vaccine against it is important. The BCG vaccine can help protect against TB in 80% of those who receive it, and is typically given to those who are at risk, or live in high risk areas. It is typically given to children under the age of 16, but you should still be able to receive the vaccine if you are considered at risk – talk to your GP about your options.
Whilst not a necessity before you start university, you may wish to consider a flu jab, particularly if you’re considered to be at risk. If you plan on studying a medical course, this is certainly something you should consider, not only to protect yourself but to prevent the spread of flu around hospitals too.
If you’re planning a gap-year or plan on travelling during the holidays, it’s important that you get the right travel vaccinations. Some of those may include the vaccinations listed above, or you may need others depending on the country you’re travelling to. You can get a guide to the vaccinations needed for each travel destination via fitfortravel.
Amongst all the excitement of heading off to university, it’s important that you look after your health. If you have any doubts about whether or not you’ve had the right vaccinations or to book some, contact your GP. Remember to register with a GP when you arrive at university as well to make sure you can receive appropriate medical treatment should you become unwell at university.