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GPs told to delay ‘freshers’ meningitis jab until combined vaccine available

Public health chiefs have asked GPs to hold off vaccinating teenagers against meningitis under the freshers scheme, urging them to wait until a combined MenACWY vaccine is available.

The advice comes after a rise in cases of meningococcal group W disease in teenagers led Government advisors to recommend a combined MenACWY immunisation programme in all teenagers aged 14 to 18 years.

Currently GPs are contracted to vaccinate students due to go off to University in September the against meningitis C, as part of a temporary catch-up programme for young people who will have missed out on the new teenage MenC booster campaign.

But Public Health England has now asked GPs to wait until April to give freshers the jab, when it hopes to have obtained enough of the MenACWY vaccine for them to use instead.

In latest advice, NHS England has told practices: ‘Following a rapid increase in meningococcal group W (MenW) disease in England, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation recommended an emergency programme to vaccinate all 14-18 years-olds (school years 10-13) with a quadrivalent MenACWY conjugate vaccine to provide direct and herd protection to the whole population. 

‘Public Health England is urgently trying to procure sufficient MenACWY vaccine to vaccinate those currently in Year 13 the summer and is therefore asking GPs to delay the current MenC Freshers programme due to start in April until the MenACWY vaccine becomes available. This will avoid the need to revaccinate this group to provide additional protection against MenW.’

As yet it is unclear whether GPs will be asked to carry out the full immunisation programme with the combined vaccine.

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