Home Business News Searches for meningitis jab soar 400%

Searches for meningitis jab soar 400%

by LLB Reporter
9th Oct 23 6:14 am

Nationwide Google searches for the pneumococcal vaccine – which protects against serious illnesses like pneumonia and meningitis – have risen by 400% over the last week.

The vaccination is recommended for people at a higher risk of contracting a bacterial infection but is available to most people – including students who may have increased concerns around contracting meningitis after a Swansea student mistook it for freshers’ flu.

The student was sick for three weeks with what he thought was a ‘continuous cold’ before being taken to hospital and diagnosed with a meningococcal infection that turned into sepsis.

The story has led to an influx of advice stressing the importance of students seeking medical attention for persistent colds, and it seems to have struck a chord, with searches for ‘book a flu jab near me’ up 100% and ‘flu jab eligibility’ up 140% over the last seven days.

The findings, pulled together by wellness experts Vegetology, come alongside a new ranking that reveals which university city is the most proactive about identifying and combatting winter illnesses, based on Google searches made throughout flu season each year.

Google searches analysed include those clarifying symptoms – such as ‘flu symptoms’ and ‘cold symptoms,’ seeking vaccinations, questions about how long illnesses last, and searches for cures or remedies to help treat and eradicate the symptoms.

Searches were then scaled against the local population to assign each city a ‘proactivity score’ out of ten – with London, Leeds, and Liverpool ranking joint first.

The most searched-for term in London throughout September and October over the past three years was ‘Boots flu jab’ – which has seen a 100% rise nationally over the last week.

It will be interesting to see whether this recent rise in flu jab demand will improve last year’s influenza vaccination uptake, with less than a quarter of London adults under 65 (22.8%) getting it from their GP, according to the Department of Health and Social Care.

Uptake was slightly better in both Liverpool (23.7%) and Leeds (27.9%) last year – but given many students will forget or not bother to sign up with a GP once they move to university, it’s key that more young people protect themselves this year to avoid serious illnesses.

Following behind the joint frontrunners as the second-most proactive is Plymouth, which is good news for the city’s estimated 17.4k undergraduates who may be battling freshers’ flu.

Like London, the top search term in the city is ‘Boots flu jab,’ with the second-most common search coming out as ‘flu symptoms’ (which is up 180% nationally in the last week).

On the other end of the scale, the city with the lowest volume of searches around combatting winter illnesses is Derby, which saw 99% fewer searches per capita than London. Other cities that reported low flu-related searches were Durham, Cardiff, and Bradford.

Speaking on the findings, Chris Smith, wellness expert at Vegetology, says proactivity is key as we head into flu season, saying: “As students started back at university over the last two weeks, there’s an increased risk of them contracting freshers’ flu due to large numbers of people mingling in close proximity – but this freshers’ flu can evolve into something worse.

“This is particularly true when other factors contribute to the likelihood of falling ill, such as nights out spent drinking, a low immunity rate, and sudden changes in the weather. And recent events have shown us that it’s vital to prioritise your health during this time of year.

“Although a cold typically starts with mild symptoms such as a runny nose and a sore throat, if you find that it persists or worsens beyond 10 days – or if you develop other symptoms like chest pain or high fever – it may be an indication of a more serious infection.”

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