More than half of Brits don’t know which diseases they’re vaccinated against, a new study has revealed.
A survey of 2,000 Brits showed that 91 per cent of people asked were certain they have been immunised in the past, but 55 per cent were unsure of what diseases and conditions they were protected against.
Almost half surveyed don’t know whether there are currently any jabs available to them without a cost, despite the UK having a national immunisation programme in which vaccines are offered free on the NHS.
It also emerged one in 10 don’t think they’ve ever had a vaccine – or don’t know whether they have.
Another 45 per cent of those surveyed have never consulted their doctor or nurse to see if they have had all of their free vaccinations.
And 79 per cent admit they should know more about their vaccination history and what they have been safeguarded against.
Vinny Smith, Chief Executive at the Meningitis Research Foundation (MRF), who commissioned the study, said:
Meningitis and septicaemia are deadly diseases that can strike without warning.
Although babies are the most at risk, anyone can be affected at any age.
Vaccination is the only way to prevent meningitis and septicaemia and we’d like to see more people aware of the vaccinations available.
We encourage everyone to take up the offer of the vaccines included in the immunisation schedule.
The MRF is concerned by the apparent low awareness of vaccines, particularly as a catch up vaccination programme with the new MenACWY meningitis vaccine for teens and young adults has seen worryingly low uptake (around 40 per cent).
To ensure protection from life-threatening illness, it’s vital that people remain up to date with their vaccines. Free vaccination are available not only to babies but at several stages throughout life, such as at school, in adolescence and as we age.
Despite a national vaccination programme that aims to protect all young people against a particularly deadly type of meningitis – meningococcal W meningitis and septicaemia (MenW), 76 per cent of 18-25 year olds surveyed were unaware of the disease.
The MenACWY vaccination programme was introduced for teenagers in 2015 to stop a rapid rise in cases of MenW.
We know that over a million teenagers and young adults have not yet got their free vaccine from their GP meaning they are unprotected against the deadly strain.
This new research shows that a lack of awareness is likely to be a major reason for the low uptake.
Teenagers and young adults are the age group that most commonly carry meningococcal bacteria in their nose and throat and they can spread it to others.
By vaccinating teenagers, this will not only directly protect them against four types of meningitis and septicaemia, Men A, C, W and Y, it will also stop the bacteria spreading, which over time will offer protection for the whole population.
Most teenagers and young people up to the age of 22 can get the vaccine free as well as first year university students up to the age of 25.
Check your eligibility at www.meningitis.org/oneshot
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Charlie Cocksedge is a journalist at UNILAD. He graduated from the University of Manchester with an MA in Creative Writing, where he learnt how to write in the third person, before getting his NCTJ. His work has also appeared in such places as The Guardian, PN Review and the bin.