Recorder letters: Vaccines for Freshers, post A-levels and visit the Lake District for meningitis care

PUBLISHED: 12:00 26 August 2018

Students are being urged to check on their vaccines before going to university. Picture: PA

Students are being urged to check on their vaccines before going to university. Picture: PA

PA Archive/Press Association Images

Letters, contributions and comments sent in from Recorder readers this week.

Freshers vaccination reminder

Dr Mary Ramsay, Head of Immunisations at Public Health England (PHE), writes:

We care calling on London Freshers to get their MenACWY and MMR vaccines

We know that colleges and universities can be hot spots for the spread of measles and meningococcal disease. First year students especially are at increased risk of meningococcal infection if they are unvaccinated – which makes sense when they spend large amounts of time with new people in confined environments such as university halls.

We therefore encourage students to check with their GP that they are up to date with their MMR and MenACWY vaccinations before term starts – it’s never too late to protect themselves and their friends from these highly infectious and serious diseases.

Measles is a highly contagious viral illness that can have serious complications.

It can be more severe in young people and adults, often leading to hospital admissions. Measles starts with cold-like symptoms and sore red eyes followed by a high temperature and a red-brown blotchy rash.

Meningitis and septicaemia can develop suddenly and can kill or leave people with life changing disabilities and long-term health problems. Symptoms include a blotchy rash that doesn’t fade when a glass is rolled over it, fever, aching muscles and joints, and a stiff neck. The W strain can also cause vomiting and diarrhoea. Meningitis and septicaemia are very serious and require urgent attention.

Meningococcal bacteria can cause meningitis (inflammation of the lining of the brain) and septicaemia (blood poisoning) that are very serious and can kill, especially if not diagnosed early. They are more easily spread when lots of people mix closely for the first time.

The MenACWY vaccine does not protect against every strain that can cause meningitis and septicaemia, so it’s important to be aware of the symptoms so that young people can seek quick medical help if they become unwell, either themselves or their fellow students.

If you think you’ve got either measles or meningitis, call NHS 111 straight away.

Univeristy is not the only option

Dr Nick Smith, courses director and founder of Oxford Open Learning Trust, writes:

A-level results day is a massive occasion for students all over the country and it’s great to see so many smiling faces excited for the future.

Inevitably some will not receive the news they were hoping for and fall a little short of the results needed for their next step. We’re here to reassure them that everything is going to be alright! If students don’t quite get the A-levels they wanted, there are a number of options available to them.

The UCAS clearing system should be your first port of call if you didn’t meet your university’s grade requirements.

Many institutions will still have places available, so have a look on the UCAS website or give them a quick call to check if your course is on offer elsewhere.

Alternatively, it might be worth considering other learning pathways, such as apprenticeships or work experience. Gap years are also an option and allow you to pursue other interests such as travel or charity work.

For students considering a break from traditional education, you can still resit A-levels or even start studying for new ones whilst working. Distance learning is the most flexible way of doing this as everything you need is available online, so you can learn wherever and whenever is convenient for you.

To find out more about distance learning, visit:

Charity needs you to help raise cash

Michaela Ifill, Meningitis Now, writes:

We’d like to invite your more adventurous readers to join us on our Lake District challenge next Spring and help save lives and rebuild futures shattered by meningitis.

They’ll conquer eight peaks, all above 3,000 feet, over two days. It will require energy, commitment and a positive attitude, but will reward those taking part with breath-taking views, wrapped up in a serious adventure and a weekend they’ll never forget.

Every step they take will also help us to fight meningitis and move us closer to our vision of a future where no one in the UK dies from this devastating disease and everyone affected gets the support they need.

Registration is just £49 with a fundraising pledge of £500. Accommodation, food, travel and the support of a qualified and experienced mountain leader and safety team are all included, and I’ll be there to support you throughout your fundraising journey. It takes place between Thursday May 2 and Sunday May 5 next year.

Those interested in joining us can find out more at or by emailing me at

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