Meningitis B vaccine go ahead
30th March 2015 --The Department of Health has reached a deal to pay for a new meningitis B child vaccination programme for babies.
Government advisers recommended the vaccine a year ago and negotiations over the price have been going on since then.
The new vaccine will now be included in routine child jabs across the UK later this year.
The Meningitis Research Foundation says meningococcal B disease, or MenB, is the biggest cause of bacterial meningitis in the UK. In 10% of cases, it leads to death, and in 36% of cases there are long-term complications.
The charity has been campaigning for the vaccine to be made available. "When this vaccine is finally introduced it will save lives and spare countless families the trauma of seeing a loved one die or become seriously disabled because of MenB," says chief executive Chris Head in a statement.
"We do however remain concerned that there is no recommendation for teenagers, the second highest ‘at risk’ group, to be routinely vaccinated. Vaccinating this age group has the potential to protect the wider population because they are key to transmission and spread," he adds.
Dr Ian Maconichie, registrar at the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health also welcomed the announcement in a statement: "[Bacterial] meningitis is a very serious infectious disease and is a leading killer of children and young people in the UK – 1in 10 cases prove fatal and of those who survive, many are left with life long disabilities.
"This decision will undoubtedly decrease mortality and morbidity rates and reduce the burden meningitis can have on children and their families."
Earlier this month, the UK's independent vaccination advisers, Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), recommended offering vaccination to 14-18 year olds against meningococcal W disease, also known as MenW, an aggressive type of meningitis.
It could take longer than a year for a vaccination programme to include toddlers and infants.