Grieving Woodford Green mother is urging parents to vaccinate children with free meningitis jab

Lauren died two weeks after starting University

Lauren died two weeks after starting University - Credit: Archant

Talented 18-year-old Lauren Sandell died from meningitis W in the same month she was scheduled to have a free vaccination against the virus.

Lauren died two weeks after starting University

Lauren died two weeks after starting University - Credit: Archant

Lauren was due to have the MenACWY jab shortly after starting university, but collapsed and died at her Woodford Green home in October last year.

Now bereaved mother Sharon is raising awareness about the jab in the hope that other families will not have to go through the same heartbreaking ordeal.

Sharon says not a lot of people know about the vaccination and despite Public Health England asking GPs to send out letters to patients who fall into the criteria, she claims only 17pc of doctors in Redbridge have done so.

“There is a really small uptake, they have relied on GPs but what is the point if doctors ignore it?” Sharon, 47, of Tudor Close, told the Recorder.

“Universities have a responsibility to these teenagers as well and in Scotland, where the uptake is almost 100pc, they do not let them enter the halls without a certificate to prove they have had it.”

Lauren came home from university on the weekend and wasn’t feeliing herself.

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“She said she was stressed about university and wasn’t settling in well,” Sharon said.

The next day Lauren felt sick and got into bed with her mum.

The pair discussed the possibility of moving to a London university and Googled course options, but Lauren started to breathe rapidly and said her vision was blurry.

Sharon thought she was having a panic attack and tried to calm her down but her breathing got worse.

“I called my son and as he went into the room she fell back – it was like she was unconscious.”

Depite calling 999 and performing CPR, Lauren died and the only thing the family can be thankful for is that she didn’t die alone.

Sharon said her daughter was really hard working and strived to do her best: “She was always happy and really fit, she was such a determined, really lovely girl.

“I don’t want other parents to go through this, you need to make sure you get the jab.

“I booked her to have one but it takes two weeks to order, and the nurse said it would be fine to send her to university and arrange one for when she was home again.”

Tragically that was too late.

An NHS spokeswoman said: “MenACWY is a combined vaccination that protects against four common strains of meningitis. It is offered to all children in Years 9 and 10 and is also available to 18 to 25-year-olds free on request.”