MENINGITIS AWARENESS WEEK - Students Encouraged to Get MenACWY Vaccine!

A Co. Down Woman is supporting Meningitis Awareness Week to help save lives

• Personal story on the importance of student getting the MenACWY vaccine!
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AnnaMarie Mathers, from Co. Down is sharing her first-hand experience of meningitis with the local community during national Meningitis Awareness Week (19-25 September 2016) to ensure other young people book an appointment with their GP to get the MenACWY vaccine. 

Anna Marie said: ‘’After a long period of recovery from meningococcal septicaemia, all I wanted as an eighteen year old was to get my life back and to be able to do things alone unsupervised.  It’s because of my experience, that over twenty years on that I still strive to raise awareness of this dreadful disease.  It’s so important for everyone to know the symptoms, to be vigilant, and to take action as soon as they spot the symptoms.  I would especially encourage all teenagers and students to get the MenACWY vaccine. ’’

Jim Wells, DUP MLA for South Down said: “It is important for people to recognise the signs and symptoms of meningitis and septicaemia so that they know what to do and know that they need to act quickly.  I commend the valuable contribution of Meningitis Research Foundation, in particular in running public awareness media campaigns and in providing targeted information talks and literature for key local health professionals and community groups.” 

Mr Wells added: “There is no single vaccine that can prevent all forms of meningitis and meningococcal septicaemia, however there are effective vaccines available that provide excellent protection against some forms.  Parents should take the opportunity to get their child vaccinated with the MenB vaccine as part of the childhood immunisation schedule, and I would encourage all eligible young people to take up the offer of the Men ACWY vaccine.”  

Young people going on to university or college are particularly at risk of meningitis and septicaemia because they mix with so many other students, some of whom are unknowingly carrying the bacteria. But this year’s school leavers are advised to get the vaccination whether starting college or not.


The meningococcal ACWY (Men ACWY) vaccination programme was prompted by an alarming rise of a deadly new strain of meningococcal W meningitis and septicaemia, identified by MRF’s ground-breaking Meningococcus Genome Library project.

The disease can develop suddenly and progress rapidly. Early symptoms include headache, vomiting, muscle pain, fever, and cold hands and feet. Students should be alert to the symptoms and should not wait for a rash to develop before seeking medical attention urgently. 

Meningitis Awareness Week is run by Meningitis Research Foundation (MRF).

MRF Medical Information Officer, Kathryn McAuley, said: “We are so grateful to AnnaMarie for sharing her story and to Rathfriland High students for raising awareness in Co. Down during Meningitis Awareness Week.  By getting the free meningitis vaccine, students are not only protecting themselves from a potentially deadly disease, but also protecting others by stopping the spread.

“It’s also vital for students to watch out for their friends if they’re unwell. If they have meningitis it can very quickly get worse. It can be deadly so act fast and get medical help.”

Share the Meningitis Awareness Week campaign ( with everyone you know using #MRFAwarenessWeek.

For any questions about meningitis, septicaemia and vaccinations that can prevent the diseases call MRF’s Freefone helpline on 080 8800 3344 or log on to

Last updated 5 years 2 months ago