Teenagers to get new meningitis jab
Health chiefs are planning to launch a large-scale immunisation programme to protect teenagers against the deadly meningitis W disease after a steep rise in cases.
There were just 22 cases of the potentially lethal disease in 2009, but this has shot up to 117 last year, Public Health England (PHE) said.
They are planning to immunise teenagers aged 14 to 18 in a bid to put a halt to the disease's spread.
Andrew Pollard, chairman of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), said the upsurge in cases was caused by a "highly aggressive strain of the bug".
He said: "We reviewed the outbreak in detail at JCVI and concluded that this increase was likely to continue in future years unless action is taken.
"We have therefore advised the Department of Health to implement a vaccination programme for teenagers as soon as possible which we believe will have a substantial impact on the disease and protect the public's health."
John Watson, deputy chief medical officer for England, said they are developing a plan to immunise teenagers against the disease, which is also known as meningococcal group W or MenW.
Dr Shamez Ladhani, Paediatric Infectious Disease Consultant at PHE, said: "Meningococcal group W disease is a rare but life-threatening infection in children and adults. We will now work with the Government and NHS England to roll out a vaccination programme.
"It's crucial that we all remain alert to the signs and symptoms of the disease and seek urgent medical attention if there is any concern. The disease develops rapidly and early symptoms can include headache, vomiting, muscle pain and fever with cold hands and feet."