Heath chiefs in St Helens are urging school sixth formers to request a meningitis vaccine booster from their GP before heading to university.
They warn that halls of residents - where most students live at the start of their degree courses - provide ideal conditions for the disease to spread quickly.
Now, following a recommendation from the NHS Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, a vaccination programme for freshers is being rolled out.
All prospective university students can expect to be informed via the universities admissions bodies UCAS they are eligible for the jab.
Liz Gaulton, St Helens’ director of public health, said: “Meningitis is a really serious illness, so it’s absolutely vital that anyone due to start college or university gets the MenC vaccine.
“If you, your friend or a family member receive a letter from UCAS about the new MenC booster for freshers, then contact your GP to request the vaccine.”
Meningitis vaccines have been offered to all 14 year olds since last year but anyone about to start university will not have benefitted from the new programme, hence the scheme to offer them immunisation boosters now.
A vaccination boosts immunity at just the right time - before students arrive at their new college or university and when the risk of meningitis is at its highest.