What is happening in regard to Meningitis?
The HSE has reported that there is an increase in the number of cases of meningococcal cases in December and early January as compared with the same period last year. The HSE states that this is not an outbreak but reflects the known increased incidence of meningococcal disease in winter and early spring. In the eleven cases notified there were different age groups affected. There were no links between the different cases and there were different strains of the bacteria involved including B, C, W and Y. Ireland has seen a decrease in cases of meningococcal disease cause by serogroup B apart from 2018 when there was a slight increase. There has been an increase in cases caused by C, W, and Y though the number of cases remain small.
Is the a vaccine to prevent meningitis?
There are a number of vaccines that help prevent particular kinds of meningitis. They include:
Children are routinely vaccinated against Meningitis C with a booster when aged 12 -13. All Irish students would have been offered the vaccine as children.
Men B vaccine had been part of the Universal Primary Childhood Immunisation for children born after 1st October 2016.
Quadrivalent Vaccine ACWY
The vaccine protects against four serogroups and includes A, C, W and Y. This vaccine is not routinely given in Ireland. It is advised for travel to certain areas including Sub Saharan Africa and Saudi Arabia. It is also advised for people with certain medical conditions that put them at increased risk. See here for more information or discuss with your health care provider.
What should students do about vaccination for Meningitis?
All students are advised to ensure that they have had the vaccine to protect against Meningitis C which will have been given in school. The HSE are not advising any other vaccines at present for the student age group unless you are in an at risk group. Please see the HSPC meningitis fact sheet and National Immunisation Office for further information.
All students are advised to be aware of the symptoms and signs of Meningitis and get immediate medical help if you are concerned about yourself or a friend. Please see here for more information.