Doctors send health warning to new students

PUBLISHED: 13:00 22 September 2018

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A health warning has been issued to people starting at college or university, with students more prone to contracting diseases and illnesses.

Youngsters have been urged by Public Health England and North Somerset Council to check their MMR and MenACWY immunisations, which protect against measles and meningitis, are up to date before starting their studies.

The South West has seen an increase in measles cases in recent months, which has particularly affected people aged 16-25.

The illness is highly infectious and can lead to serious complications.

Dr Andrew Burnett, interim director of Public Health at North Somerset Council, said: “The start of college or university is a really exciting time and with a few simple precautions, students can make sure that this is a time in their lives they’ll remember, for all the right reasons.

“Sexual health is a key priority but we are also urging students to make sure their immunisations, especially the MMR which protects against measles and MenACWY which protects against four strains of meningitis, are up to date.”

Dr Julie Yates, screening and immunisations lead for PHE South West added: “We know that colleges and universities can be hot spots for the spread of measles and meningococcal disease.

“First-year students especially are at increased risk of meningococcal infection if they are unvaccinated – which makes sense when they spend large amounts of time with new people in confined environments such as university halls.

“We therefore encourage students to check with their GP that they are up to date with their MMR and MenACWY vaccinations before term starts – it’s never too late to protect themselves and their friends from these highly infectious and serious diseases.”

Doctors have also called on students to prioritise safe sex, and free condoms are available through the C.Card scheme across North Somerset.

Through the programme, youngsters can book confidential appointments with trained workers to discuss relationships and sexual health, and the C.Card can be used at participating pharmacies, surgeries, colleges 
or youth centres to get free condoms.

For more information, visit www.n-somerset.gov.uk/16to25

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