POLITICS

Government Rejects Extending Meningitis Vaccine In Response To Largest E-Petition In UK History

02/03/2016 11:30 GMT | Updated 02/03/2016 11:59 GMT

Warning: People may find the photos below extremely graphic.

The Government has rejected calls for the meningitis B vaccine to be prescribed to all children under 11 years old despite the issue being considered for a debate in Parliament.

A record number of more than 810,000 people have signed a parliamentary e-petition calling for a change in policy, and MPs serving on the Petition Committee last night ruled they will hold two evidence sessions later this month.

But despite attracting more signatures than any other petition since the system was introduced in 2011, the Government has issued a response saying the move “would not represent a good use of NHS resources”.

petition

An e-petition requires 100,000 signatures to be considered for a debate in Parliament

The response is likely to cause anger among parents campaigning for more wider use of the Bexsero vaccine on the state.

The issue came to prominence after a couple from Maidstone, Kent, released graphic images of their two-year-old daughter Faye Burdett, who died from the virus on Valentine's Day.

faye burdett

Faye Burdett before she fell ill (L) and hours before she died (R)

The Bexsero vaccine against meningitis B was introduced in September 2015, but it is only babies under nine months who receive the jab on the NHS. If parents want an older child to be immunised they must pay privately.

In its lengthy response to the petition, the Department of Health points out it is following the advice of the independent expert body, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).

It goes on to justify its decision not to extend the vaccine beyond the JCVI’s guidance.

It states:

“The NHS budget is a finite resource. It is therefore essential that JCVI’s recommendations are underpinned by evidence of cost-effectiveness. Offering the vaccine outside of JCVI’s advice would not be cost effective, and would not therefore represent a good use of NHS resources which should be used to benefit the health and care of the most people possible.”

The statement goes on that raising the cut-off date would cause “inequalities” in care, and the body dismissed even increasing the coverage to all children under the age of 4 because of the “marginal cost-effectiveness of even the infant programme”.

Faye’s mum, Jenny, revealed her daughter was ill for just 11 days before she died.

Sharing her story through the charity Meningitis Now, Jenny said: "Faye was taken to A&E with a rash on her forehead.

"She was then transferred by South Bank Retrieval Service to Evelina Children's Hospital, where her heart stopped in the ambulance.

"They revived her and spent hours working on stabilising her."

“We were given a one per cent survival chance but she proved them wrong and carried on fighting."

“After a few days she seemed to have turned a corner, but the sepsis started to affect her more and the decision of limb removal was made. The extent of removal was massive, full leg amputation and one arm and plastic surgery."

“She was getting tired, her little body consumed by meningitis and sepsis (blood poisoning). We had to make the decision, a massive operation and she may die or we let her go peacefully on her own accord."

“We decided the latter and then watched our little girl slip away. At 9pm on February 14th she finally fell asleep forever. All this in only 11 days."

The campaign also received a boost when World Cup winning England Rugby player Matt Dawson revealed his two-year-old son, Sam, spent two weeks battling meningitis C in Great Ormond Street Hospital.

Lee Booth, who lives in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, launched the petition in September 2015 after one of his two daughters was deemed too old to have the vaccine on the NHS.

Meningitis B is a rare illness, affecting around one in 20,000 one-to-four year olds every year, but it carries with a fatality rate of 10 per cent.