Making young people aware

Stacey Dooley
Stacey Dooley

Luton born campaigner Stacey Dooley has been talking to a young survivor of meningitis to raise awareness of the new MenACWY vaccination programme.

The new vaccinations being offered for free to school leavers this month will protect them from meningococcal disease which can cause meningitis and septicaemia.

The TV presenter met with Amy Davies as part of a Public Health England campaign to understand the impact of the disease.

Amy contracted meningitis and septicaemia when she was 18, she was told she only had a 10% chance of survival and was put in an induced coma for over two weeks.

Her family watched her legs and arms turn black as septicaemia took hold of her body.

After spending time in intensive care and a rehabilitation unit, she underwent many operations to remove her toes, part of her foot and her lower left leg was amputated.

Stacey’s meeting with Amy is part of a short film that sees them encourage 18-year-olds to take up the offer of the free vaccination.

Amy said: “Meningococcal disease is a life-changing disease that I never thought could affect me.

“I was a normal 18 year old, but the moment I contracted the disease my life was turned upside down.

“It is a terrible disease that has impacted my whole life, particularly as I have had to adjust to having my lower left leg amputated, and it robbed me of some important years of my youth, when I should have been out having fun, rather than under going months of incredibly traumatic treatment.”

Students and 18-year-olds are being advised to be aware of symptoms of meningitis and septicaemia, which can be difficult to recognise in the early stages.

Dr Mary Ramsay, head of immunisation at Public Health England, said: “We are encouraging all eligible teenagers to take-up the offer of vaccination when they are contacted by their GP.

“If you are planning to go to university or college, you should be vaccinated before the start of the academic term or before leaving home for university or college.

“Please make an appointment with your GP as soon as possible when the vaccine is offered.

“First time university entrants from 19 to 24 years of age inclusive should also contact their GP for the vaccination.

“Meningitis can be deadly and survivors are often left with severe disabilities as a result of this terrible disease.

“This vaccine will save lives and prevent permanent disability.

“We must all remain alert to the signs and symptoms of meningococcal disease and seek urgent medical attention if there is any concern.

“The disease develops rapidly and early symptoms can include headache, vomiting, muscle pain and fever with cold hands and feet.

“Be aware of all signs and symptoms and trust your instincts, don’t wait for a rash to develop before seeking urgent medical attention.”