YOUNG people preparing to go to university in September are being reminded to make sure they get a vital meningitis vaccine before they leave home.

With hundreds of thousands of students preparing to start university next month, International charity Meningitis Research Foundation has launched a campaign calling on them to not only make sure they are protected, but also know the signs and symptoms of the potentially fatal illness.

The Meningococcal C (Men C) booster shot is available to any student entering university who was born after 1995 and only received the vaccine when they were aged 10 or younger. Students of any age who have never had the vaccine are also being offered it for free. Health experts have recommended students get the vaccine at least two weeks before they leave for university.

Meningitis is especially common among university students due to often very close living conditions and can leave survivors with a serious disability.

A spokesman from the University of Worcester said every student living in halls of residence is given a symptom card so they can recognise the signs of the disease.

“We have meningitis awareness stands and Meningitis Now will be holding events throughout Freshers’ Week,” she said.

“For the first time this year, Meningitis Now will be holding two training events in October at the university for staff and students to attend to find out more and how to recognise signs and symptoms of both viral and bacterial meningitis.

“As students fall into the ‘high risk’ category, we hold regular awareness events throughout the academic year especially at the start of the semester and then when students return in January and February.

“We also have a section within our induction talks that highlights meningitis and what action students should take if they suspect they may or a housemate may have it.”

Health experts have also said students coming to the study in the UK from abroad should also make sure they get the vaccine as soon as they can.

About 3,200 cases of meningitis and septicaemia are diagnosed every year in the UK and are often mistaken for milder illnesses such as flu.

Symptoms of meningitis include fever, cold hands and feet, vomiting, drowsiness, dislike of bright lights, stiff neck, and pale or blotchy skin.

Anyone who thinks they or someone they know may have meningitis should speak to their GP, call NHS 111 or call 999 if it is an emergency.