Published: 08:17, 21 August 2019
| Updated: 11:40, 21 August 2019
The parents of a young man who died after contracting meningitis are urging young people starting university or college this September to make sure they are vaccinated.
Tim Mason from Tunbridge Wells died after contracting meningococcal meningitis (MenW) in March 2018.
The apprentice electrical engineer was just 21.
His mother Fiona said: "He was a kind, bright, fun-loving young man.
"He was a very fit, very active 21-year-old. He contracted a winter flu virus, recovered from it, and a couple of days later he started feeling quite ill again and he went to see his GP who said there was definitely an infection of some sort, but as he was a very strong young man, very fit and healthy, she saw no reason for antibiotics and he would be able to fight it off.
"He came home and rested and later that night at 12.30 Tim started vomiting and was extremely ill, he was so ill that I dialled 111 to ask for advice."
Hours later, Tim went to A + E and was discharged with a list of symptoms to look out for.
She added: "Tim's symptoms did not include the meningitis symptoms, the usual ones that one is told to look out for like dislike of bright lights and stiff neck; the main symptoms that were evident was vomiting, a high temperature and a rapid heart rate.
"He got iller and iller at home and at 2pm I took him back to hospital. Tim was unable to walk and had been unable to walk on our first visit. At this point, he couldn't even sit up straight, he was desperately ill.
"He was admitted into the resuscitation unit at the hospital where they realised he was very ill.
"Tim died at 21.46pm that night which was 21 hours and 15 minutes after the first on-set of the symptoms.
"It was fast, frightening and he was terrified all the way through. He kept saying he thought he was dying from the first admission through to the second, and it's not something I would wish on anyone else.
"We found out that the disease Tim had contracted was Meningitis W which is fast, enters the blood stream very very quickly and took him away from us in 21 hours and 15 minutes.
"Tim should have been protected the vaccine. He was in priority group to be offered the vaccine but he was never offered it and we knew nothing about it."
The first dose of the MMR vaccine is offered to all one-year-olds. Children are given a second dose of MMR before they start school.
"It was fast, frightening and he was terrified all the way through..." Fiona Mason
Public Health England estimates that 30,000 children will be beginning school next month with no protection, and 90,000 children will have only had the first dose.
The vaccine which Tim would have been eligible for was the MenACWY which is offered to children in school at the age of 14.
Boris Johnson announced on Monday that the government will do more to tackle misinformation from anti-vaccination groups on social media.
Tim's father Gavin is urging young people aged between 18 and 25 to make sure that they are protected.
He said: "We discovered that this vaccine had been rolled out in 2015 quickly and rapidly because of this virulent Meningitis W.
"GPs were contracted to invite people in by letter in a specific age group - the age group that Tim was in - but for various reasons that didn't happen and we discovered it didn't happen right across the country.
"They just weren't being invited in the quantities they should."
They also discovered a fault with a software which was supposed to alert GPs to a potential eligible person coming in to their surgeries.
Gavin added: "We are desperate that this doesn't happen needlessly to others and that's why we are supporting Meningitis Now with this campaign."