New chapter, new students, new bugs… and the MMR and meningococcal ACWY vaccines

Cute boy with a possible measles rash crying

Possible measles in a child.

Make sure you are prepared for University by protecting yourself against measles, mumps and meningitis with the MMR and meningococcal vaccines.

There are two highly recommended vaccines that all new students should get before starting University – Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) and Meningococcal ACWY. These diseases are all spread through:

  • Sneezing
  • Coughing 
  • Kissing
  • Sharing utensils, cutlery and toothbrushes


In 2004 (the year that current 18 year olds should have received the MMR vaccine) the uptake of MMR vaccine was 81% leaving a significant number of the population unvaccinated and increasing the risk of disease outbreak.

Due to low compliance rates in the early 00s, the UK has lost its measles free status. The government has ordered “urgent action to be taken” after more than 230 cases of measles were reported in the UK in the first quarter of 2019.

Measles is a highly infectious illness. Symptoms include flu like illness, fever, rash and sore, red eyes. Serious complications can occur including pneumonia and encephalitis.

Mumps causes painful swelling in the face, neck and ears. Symptoms also include headache, joint pain, lethargy and fever. Serious complications associated with mumps are meningitis and swelling in the ovaries or testicles. It is estimated that 1 in 10 males who have had mumps experience a drop in sperm count.

Rubella, commonly known as German Measles is fortunately rare in the UK. Symptoms include a rash and flu like illness. Rubella can cause serious complications in pregnancy.

Receiving two doses of the MMR vaccine can prevent all of the above diseases. This vaccine is available on the NHS childhood immunisation schedule and currently given to children at age 1 and age 3.

 If you did not receive these vaccines in your early years then it important to get them done as soon as possible to reduce your risks when starting university.

A picture of an MMR vaccine vial and vaccine syringe

MMR Vaccine


There are many different forms of meningitis, all caused by viral or bacterial infection.

With early diagnosis and treatment most people with meningococcal disease can make a full recovery. But the disease can progress quickly and if undetected can cause serious long term health problems such as amputation, deafness, blindness, epilepsy and learning difficulties.

Scanning electron microscope of meningococcal bacteria

Meningococcal bacteria seen with a scanning electron microscope

People who carry these viruses or bacteria in their nose or throat, but are not ill themselves usually spread the infection. For this reason, meningitis can spread quickly through large groups of people such as university students.

The highly virulent strain of Meningitis W has been rising steadily throughout the past 10 years. There were 22 cases in 2009 and 210 in 2015 in England. 1 in 3 teenagers with Meningitis W have died as a result of the disease.

The meningitis ACWY vaccine is recommended for teenagers and students going to university. This vaccine protects against 4 strains of meningococcal bacteria and therefore reduces the risk of deadly illnesses such as meningitis and septicaemia.

These vaccine preventable diseases do not need to be an issue for new university students if everyone adequately prepares. There are plenty of opportunities for learning, growing and developing; the last thing that anyone needs on this journey is the accompaniment of a nasty disease that gets in the way of your success.

For further information or to book an appointment, please get in touch on 02476 016519 or email us at We have sufficient supply of both vaccines to accommodate your needs.


Gemma Hicks