January 19, 2022

Kilkenny teenagers to be given new vaccine to protect against meningitis

A NEW vaccine providing protection against particularly lethal forms of meningitis will be available to Kilkenny teenagers before they return to school next autumn.

Health Minister Simon Harris has approved the introduction of the meningitis ACWY to replace the existing shot protecting against the disease from the next academic year.

The Department of Health said the new vaccine will replace the current booster dose of meningitis C vaccine given to teenagers in their first year of secondary school.

The move is a response to a rise in cases involved the previously rare W and Y serogroups of the disease. Since 2014, cases of menW have more than tripled in Ireland, with 12 cases reported in 2018. Eight cases of menY and 20 of menB were also reported.

Last year there were 13 deaths in Ireland associated with meningococcal disease, according to the Health Services Executive (HSE).

Latest figures show that six deaths associated with meningitis have been reported so far this year.

Meningitis – the warning signs:

Early symptoms usually include fever, vomiting, headache and feeling unwell, which can be mistaken for something less serious.

Limb pain, pale skin, and cold hands and feet often appear earlier than a rash, neck stiffness, dislike of bright lights and confusion.

The meningitis W strain can be very difficult to recognise because patients can often present with gastrointestinal symptoms, such as vomiting, without the characteristic signs of meningitis and septicaemia, such as a rash.

Meningitis can kill within 24 hours. About a third of survivors can be left with life-changing after-effects, some as serious as brain damage, limb loss, blindness or hearing loss.

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