MMore than a million people could be exposed to a deadly strain of meningitis because of an NHS IT error, he said.

A system designed to alert general practitioners when a patient should be asked to be vaccinated has not been energized for years due to fears of "warning fatigue".

It has been introduced to assist in the delivery of the MenACWY vaccine to the recrudescence of meningococcal meningitis (MenW).

But its inability to activate would have caused the death of young people, announced last night the Foundation for Meningitis Research (MRF).

Adolescents and young adults are most at risk, especially those who left school for grade 13 in 2015, 2016 or 2017.

The alert system, designed by the EMIS software provider, is crucial as the data shows that only about 40% of this cohort have been vaccinated.

However, according to MRF, the software has been installed in the GP systems with a default setting of "inactive".

Seema Kennedy, Minister of Health, confirmed that "the protocol has not been activated by default, but instructions have been sent for local activation".

NHS Digital said the EMIS alert had been activated for general practitioner practices in early April of this year.

Tim Mason, an electrical engineer apprentice and age 21, who contracted meningitis in March 2018, died as a result of an act of infection with the vaccine.