Check here to see if you have the vaccinations you need.

The College has information, advice and procedures in place for the following infectious diseases:

  • Norovirus
  • Influenza
  • Meningitis C
  • Mumps
  • Tuberculosis

The Cambridge Student Health website, has been developed by local GP surgeries to provide information and guidance about a wide range of health matters and services for University students.


Norovirus (Winter Vomiting Virus) spreads easily from person to person and causes gastroenteritis. Symptoms are sudden onset of vomiting and diarrhoea. Other symptoms are raised temperature, headache and joint pains. Some or all of these symptoms may be present.

Advice on avoidance:

  • Wash your hands frequently using warm water and a liquid soap, especially:
    • after using the toilet
    • before eating or preparing foods
    • after gardening
    • after playing with pets.
  • When you have washed your hands, dry them thoroughly with a paper towel.
  • Wash your hands before and after touching your mouth, and coughing or sneezing into your hands.
  • Do not share towels, flannels, cutlery, or utensils with friends or housemates.
  • Take extra measures when in countries of poor sanitation: e.g. avoid water and other drinks that may not be safe and food washed in unsafe water.

If you think you have contracted Norovirus, stay in your room and drink lots of clear fluids, then:

  • Notify the College Nurse, by telephone 01223 334 817.
  • Flush away vomit and/or stool, and wash hands thoroughly using soap and water.
  • Make sure the toilet, toilet seat and toilet area, flush handles, taps and door handles are cleaned after each bout of diarrhoea or vomiting.
  • Contact housekeeping staff if you need help with cleaning or disinfectant.
  • Cover vomit immediately with paper towels to prevent spread of the virus.
  • Clean up and disinfect hard surfaces as soon as possible and report any contamination to soft furnishings to housekeeping staff immediately on 01223 334 863.
  • Do not venture out and about until you have been free from diarrhoea or vomiting for 48 hours.

General advice leaflet.

All students are advised to follow the advice below for newly-arriving University students on vaccine-preventable infections. The following advice is from the Advisory Group on Communicable Diseases, University of Cambridge, May 2017.

Meningococcal Infection

Meningococcal infection is a serious illness caused by a bacterium known as meningococcus. There are several different groups of meningococci and cases of group B meningococcal infection continue to occur in the UK. Since the introduction of vaccination against group C meningococcus in the UK in 1999, infection due to this
bacterium has become rare.

In 2013, an adolescent MenC booster dose was introduced to improve protection in teenagers and reduce their risk of catching the infection as university freshers. From autumn 2015, a new meningitis vaccine, MenACWY conjugate vaccine, has replaced the MenC vaccine in the adolescent schools programme. This is in response to a rapid increase in cases of a highly aggressive form of meningococcal group W (MenW) disease.

The new vaccine is also available to new UK university entrants (first time entrants to higher education in a UK university setting), including international students, up to 25 years of age. Any ‘freshers’ in the 17-24 year age group who request it can be vaccinated. New entrants who have already received a MenC vaccine over the age of 10 years should still receive MenACWY conjugate vaccine to ensure protection against the additional groups A, W and Y. The MenACWY conjugate vaccine can be administered at any interval after MenC vaccine.

Students are strongly advised to have the MenACWY conjugate vaccination before arriving in Cambridge. If this is not possible, please discuss it with your doctor or college nurse as soon as possible after your arrival.

Further information can be found here.

Mumps and Measles

Mumps and measles can be serious infections. We continue to see cases and clusters of both these diseases. In 2013, there has been a shift in measles cases towards secondary school age groups. Mumps cases in 2013 mainly occurred in young adults aged 17-28 years; about half had received at least one dose of MMR vaccination in childhood.

Many people now in their teens and twenties have either not been immunised at all or have had only one dose of MMR vaccination. People born in the UK after 1980 are likely to be susceptible to measles and mumps if they have not had two doses of MMR. This is because they are less likely to be immune as a result of exposure to natural disease.

MMR vaccine can be given to people of any age. National policy is to provide two doses of MMR vaccine at appropriate intervals for all eligible individuals. We strongly recommend that all students ensure that they have had two doses of the MMR vaccine before coming to university.

For more information, you can visit the Health Protection Agency's information on Mumps here.

Tuberculosis (TB)

TB is a serious but curable disease. Like most countries worldwide, the UK has been seeing an increase in TB that is highest in London and the other major cities where the risk factors tend to be concentrated. The TB rate is much higher in the foreign-born population than in the UK-born, the rate being also higher in certain ethnic groups in the first few years after they enter the country. In the UK, those at most risk of developing TB disease include people who are close contacts of a person with infectious TB and those who have visited, lived or worked for a long time in countries with a high rate of TB. Countries that have high rates of TB over 40/100,000 of the population are listed here.

[All applicants for long term visas (over six months) from countries where TB is common must be screened prior to entering the UK.  Please consult the Home Office leaflet on TB screening for the UK for further information.]

The BCG vaccine has been in use for many years to help protect against TB. It is recommended for all healthcare workers and for some high-risk groups. If you are joining as a medical student, this will be discussed as part of your Occupational Health screening.

Diagnosis of infection in young people can be delayed because often neither they nor their doctor consider it as a possibility. If you develop symptoms, such as a persistent cough that lasts for three weeks or more; appetite and weight loss; and fever and sweating at night, you should discuss this with your doctor or college nurse.


Influenza is an acute viral infection of the respiratory tract. There are three types of influenza virus: A, B and C. Influenza A and B are responsible for most illness. Influenza is highly infectious with an incubation period of one to three days. Serious illness and death from influenza are highest among young babies, older people and those with underlying disease, particularly chronic lung and heart disease, or those who are immuno suppressed.

The currently available influenza vaccines give 70% to 80% protection against infection with influenza virus strains well matched with those in the vaccine. The vaccine is given annually [in the UK] between October and December. Protection afforded by the vaccine lasts for about one year.

If you suffer from chronic lung, heart, kidney or liver disease or have diabetes or are otherwise immunosuppressed, please discuss this with your doctor or College nurse.

See here for more information.

For further information

The Cambridge Student Health website, which has been developed by local GP surgeries, provides information and guidance about a wide range of health matters and services for University students.

Advisory Group on Communicable Diseases, University of Cambridge: May 2017.

Before coming to Cambridge

  • Buy and bring digital thermometer (pharmacy staff can advise about which would best suit your needs)
  • Buy and bring over-the-counter flu medication and use according to instruction
  • Buy and bring alcohol-based hand gel for own use
  • Update friends, family and the Tutorial and Admissions Office with your current mobile phone number

On arrival in Cambridge

  • Register with a Cambridge doctor
  • Register with the College nurse
  • Be familiar with meningitis symptoms

Useful Contacts

  • NHS111 - telephone 111 to access health advice or Urgent Care Cambridgeshire, the GP out of hours service
  • First Response Service - telephone 111 option 2 for mental health crisis support
  • Downing College Nurse- 01223 334817
  • Downing Porters’ Lodge - 01223 334800