Friday 5 May 2017. Immunisation and school nurses from Children and Family Health Surrey have, this week, delivered an extensive Meningitis B vaccination programme for 4,200 students at the University of Surrey in response to a request by Public Health England (PHE).
The immunisations are being offered on a voluntary basis between 3rd-5th May as a precautionary measure following three recent cases of Meningitis at the University of Surrey, one of which resulted in the tragic death of a first year student.
Detailed analysis of the bacteria that caused disease in two of the students, confirmed that the cases were due to meningococcal group B (MenB) infection. As a result of this, PHE and the University of Surrey worked closely with Children and Family Health Surrey (Surrey’s new provider of children and family NHS community health services) to arrange for all full-time undergraduates to be offered the immunisation. Immunisation involves two vaccinations, with a second round of vaccinations due to be given in June.
Twenty five immunisation and school nurses from Children and Family Health Surrey were deployed to the Guildford campus to deliver the 4,200 immunisations to those deemed to be at the greatest risk – undergraduates who are full-time and living within the campus’ halls of residence. In addition to the immunisation and school nurses, some of the service’s Child Health Team have provided administrative support for the sessions and clinical health assistants have supported the nursing team.
Children and Family Health Surrey mobilised the nursing team and support staff within days following notification by Public Health England, despite only taking on the contract to deliver the NHS community service on 1st April 2017.
Mrs Chris McDermott, a specialist community public health nurse (school nursing) and one of the School Immunisation Leads at Children and Family Health Surrey, says: “We have worked extremely closely with Public Health England and the University of Surrey to deliver this immunisation programme, which will help to reduce risk of further cases. Students should continue to be alert to signs and symptoms of meningitis, which include fever, vomiting and a severe headache. Someone with meningitis can get worse very quickly, so it is important to keep checking on friends and colleagues, trust your instincts and get medical help immediately if meningitis is suspected.”
Professor Jane Powell, Vice-Provost Education and Students at the University of Surrey, said: “Although the risk to our students remains low, we consider their health and well-being to be our top priority, so we are very grateful to Public Health England and the NHS for their guidance and support. The hard work of all involved in making sure that our students receive this vaccination has been phenomenal, and it has ensured that the programme has been a great success.”
Dr Peter English, Consultant in Communicable Disease Control, PHE South East of England says: “Meningococcal infection is comparatively rare and the risk of transmission is relatively low. In the case of the University of Surrey, after considering the medical evidence, we have decided to offer vaccination to around 4,200 students living in halls of residence at the university to reduce risk of further cases next term.
"The close cooperation of the university, PHE, NHS, and Children and Family Health Surrey has ensured a swift response in offering the vaccine to full time undergraduate students in halls of residence.
“I would like to reassure other students, teachers, their families and the local community that the risk of catching this infection remains very low.”