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New animation released to encourage freshers to get meningitis vaccine ahead of new university term

A new Swansea University animation aims to encourage new university students to ensure that they are vaccinated against meningitis before starting at university later this month, and to raise awareness of the signs and symptoms of the infection.

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The animated film is based on research conducted by Angharad Shambler from the College of Human and Health Sciences as part of her MSc Public Health and Promotion dissertation, which looked to identify the uptake of the MenACWY vaccine by students, and their knowledge and understanding of meningitis.

The new MenACWY vaccine replaced the MenC booster vaccine in 2015, which most people have as a child. Unlike the previous vaccine, MenACWY prevents group W meningococcal disease, which can be fatal and is commonly found in the student population.


After surveying 400 students aged between 18 – 25, Angharad’s research revealed that the national uptake of the MenACWY vaccine by Swansea University students is 60.8% – well above the national average of 29.4%.


  • Meningitis is an infection of the meninges – the membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord.
  • Meningococcal bacteria – types A, B, C, W and Y – are common and carried harmlessly in the nose or throat by about one in 10 people.
  • They are passed on through close contact, such as coughing, kissing or sneezing.
  • University students living in close quarters are at a higher risk of getting meningitis due to social lifestyle and activities.
  • Symptoms can include a fever, tiredness, and general aches at first. These can get rapidly worse, with agitation, confusion, vomiting, headaches and a red-blotchy rash which can be identified as meningitis with the glass-test.

Angharad Shambler said:

“First-year students especially are at increased risk of meningococcal infection if they are unvaccinated, which is why it is so important that they know signs and symptoms.

“It’s vital that students check with their GP that they are up-to-date with their MenACWY and MMR vaccinations before term starts. The MenACWY jab is routinely offered to people in years nine and ten at school, but anyone who has missed out can be vaccinated until their 25th birthday. We would encourage students to visit their GP and ask for the MenACWY vaccine before starting university – it’s quick, easy and free. If that’s not possible, then they should register with their campus GP and have it as soon as they can after they arrive.

“Anyone who suspects they or a friend might have meningitis should seek urgent medical advice. Early diagnosis and treatment are vital, as fast action saves lives.”