March 21st marks one year since a long-overdue MenB vaccine (against meningococcal B meningitis and septicaemia) was recommended by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), subject to a cost-effective price being agreed between the vaccine manufacturer and the Department of Health (DH).
Meningococcal B infection has for decades been the single largest cause of bacterial meningitis in the UK, and a leading cause of death and disability in young children. It is feared by parents and health professionals alike because it is difficult to diagnose, strikes without warning and can kill a healthy child within hours. Prevention is key
Meningitis Research Foundation have this week launched a campaign asking Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt #WheresOurVaccine and calling on him to intervene to introduce it into the national immunisation programme for infants as soon as possible.
The campaign has a number of elements which we hope will draw attention to the need for this vaccine:
- Health Professionals and Scientists Open Letter on MenB: In a letter coordinated by us and led by Dr Simon Nadel, Adjunct Professor of Paediatric Intensive Care, St Mary's Hospital, Imperial College London , 516 Health professionals, associations and colleges across the UK have asked Jeremy Hunt why no progress has been made in the introduction of the vaccine and when it will be brought in. It is unusual for a letter such as this to elicit so many signatories and we are awaiting a response.
- Petition - We have launched an online petition looking for 10,000 signatures asking #WheresOurVaccine.
- Lobbying MPs - Supporters across the country are writing to their MP's to ask them to find out why the vaccine has not been introduced. They have also written to prospective parliamentary candidates to find out their views on MenB implementation before the forthcoming general election. As we approach the election we are concerned that this vaccine will be forgotten about
- Selfies - Our members have been sending selfies to @Jeremy_Hunt asking #WheresOurVaccine on Twitter and posting on Facebook.
If this vaccine is not introduced, it will be the first time the government has failed to introduce a vaccine recommended by the JCVI. We appeal to Jeremy Hunt to see that the MenB vaccine is introduced, combating this devastating disease and cementing the UK's position as a world leader in meningitis prevention. We will not stop until every child is protected from this disease.
You can support this campaign at: http://www.meningitis.org/wheres-our-vaccine