A BEREAVED mother is pleading with parents to protect their children from a deadly strain of meningitis that took her daughter’s life.
Lauren Sandell from Woodford Green was in her University freshers week last October when she went to A&E feeling sick, suffering aches and pains.
But within just two days the 18-year-old had developed meningococcal W meningitis and septicaemia and died hours afterwards.
Lauren Sandell (Photo: Meningitis Research Foundation/Press Association)
Her mother Sharon only heard about the new vaccine that protects teenagers from four types of meningitis in Lauren’s first week of university.
But her GP said they were out of stock and she would have to wait another two weeks for an injection - by which time it was already too late.
The 47-year-old is desperately calling on parents to make sure their children sign up for the MenACWY vaccine with their doctors, if they have not already been offered it at school.
Sharon Sandell (Photo: Meningitis Research Foundation/Press Asssociation)
She said: “We lost our beautiful daughter Lauren to meningococcal W meningitis and septicaemia in October. She was just 18 years old.
“So I’m encouraging all parents with a son or daughter in year 13 this year to contact their GP and book their free MenACWY vaccine now to prevent this happening to them too.”
The NHS gives out the injection to pupils in Years 9 to 12 for free, but research from the Meningitis Foundation (MRF) shows only a third of school leavers had one last year, despite them being in the most high-risk category.
TOWIE star Debbie Douglas has been a friend of the Sandells for many years and is backing Sharon’s calls for action.
She said: “I am devastated that Sharon has had to cope with the tragedy of losing her daughter especially since there is a vaccine Lauren could have had to prevent the disease.
“I can’t imagine what the family must be going through.
“After Lauren died, I made sure that my son Freddie got the jab as he too is in the high risk age group.”
MRF chief executive Vinny Smith thanked Sharon for sharing Lauren’s story and having the courage to speak out.
He said: “Sadly, we know there are too many families and individuals being affected by this MenW strain of meningitis.
“So we need all GPs to play their part by flagging up patients who are eligible for the MenACWY vaccine.
“We have launched an online eligibility checker and awareness campaign to make it easier for everyone to be sure who needs it gets it.
“If everyone who is entitled to the free vaccine has it, it will not only protect them but over a few years, but also help protect the rest of the population through reduced transmission of the bacteria to others.”
Anyone aged between 17 and 25 can book a MenACWY vaccine appointment with their GP.