Students heading to Huddersfield University have been urged to get vaccinated against a deadly infection.

Public Health England (PHE) is reminding unvaccinated first year students at universities across the country to go to their GP to get immunised now against meningococcal disease.

The appeal comes after PHE figures showed that less than a third of all young people leaving school last summer had been immunised with the Men ACWY vaccine by the end of October. PHE introduced the vaccination programme in 2015 to tackle a sharp rise in a particularly virulent strain of meningococcal W disease (Men W) that poses a high risk for new students.

University of Huddersfield

PHE said there had been a year-on-year increase in cases of Men W across all age groups, from 22 cases in 2009/10 to 210 cases in 2015/16 – with one in eight people with the Men W strain of the disease dying from the infection.

Meningococcal disease can develop suddenly and quickly, usually as meningitis or septicaemia. Early symptoms include severe diarrhoea and vomiting, headaches, muscle pain, fever and cold hands and feet. It can kill or result in disabilities or health problems like hearing loss, brain damage or the loss of a limb.

The vaccine also provides protection against the Men A, C and Y strains.