More than 21,000, 17 and 18 year olds in Wales have not been vaccinated against potentially life threatening strains of meningitis, according to Public Health Wales.
They now want young people to contact their GP to receive a free vaccination that protects against some of the most dangerous strains.
Leony Davies, Specialist Nurse at Public Health Wales, said: “Cases of meningitis and septicaemia… have been increasing year-on-year in England and Wales, from 27 confirmed cases in 2010 to more than 200 in 2015, yet last year only one third of 17-18 year olds received the vaccine in Wales.
“This means many young people remain at risk from the disease. We also know that cases of meningitis are seen more often during the winter months”
What is meningitis?
Meningitis is inflammation or swelling of the membrane that surrounds and protects the brain and spinal cord.
Claire Donovan, Helpline Manager at charity Meningitis Now said:
“Anyone of any age can contract meningitis but there are certain times in our lives where the risk is higher. Young children under the age of 5 have the highest risk of contracting meningitis however teenagers and young people are the second most likely.
“At the moment we are particularly concerned about a type of meningitis called MenW, a strain that has only recently become a problem within the last few years and in particular is affecting healthy young people.”