Staff and members from Meningitis Research Foundation welcome the rollout from 1 September of the world's first comprehensive vaccination programme for babies against meningococcal B (MenB) meningitis and septicaemia through the UK's immunisation programme.
Since the MenC vaccine was introduced in 1999, nearly eliminating the strain, confirmed cases of meningococcal disease in the UK have ranged from 747 to 2757 yearly. This is likely to be an underestimate because of not all cases are confirmed by the laboratory and are therefore not recorded.
The majority of this remaining meningococcal disease is caused by MenB. It is a deadly disease that can strike anyone of any age without warning killing one in ten, and leaving a third of survivors with life altering after-effects as severe as deafness, brain damage and loss of limbs. Babies, children under five and young adults are most at risk.
The UK are world leaders in vaccine protection against meningitis and the new MenB vaccine joins others against meningococcal C, Hib and pneumococcal meningitis and septicaemia already in the UK immunisation programme.
We are delighted with the introduction of the new MenB vaccine as it has been at the top of this charity's agenda for many years. Our research and campaigning contributed to the adoption of the MenB vaccine in the UK. We hope this vaccine will save many lives and spare countless families the trauma of seeing a loved one die or become seriously disabled because of MenB. Over the next decade this vaccine could potentially prevent UP TO 4,000 cases of meningococcal disease in children younger than five years in the UK.
However despite this welcome progress we must remind everyone there are still some forms of the disease which are not covered by vaccines so it is vital that people are still aware of the symptoms of meningitis and septicaemia.
• All babies born on or after 1 July 2015 will be eligible to receive the MenB vaccine as part of the routine schedule at two, four and 12 months of age.
• Babies born between 1 May 2015 and 30 June 2015 will also be eligible for the vaccine
• Babies born before 1 May 2015 will not be offered the vaccine on the NHS. It will remain available privately for parents and carers who want to immunise older children.
Catch up schedule for children born between 1 May 2015 and 30 June 2015
• Those who have not already received any routine vaccinations, should have MenB at the same time as their first and third routine infant vaccinations
• Those who have already received their first dose of routine vaccinations should have MenB at the same time as their second and third routine infant vaccinations
• Those who have already received their first and second dose of routine vaccinations should have MenB at the same time as their third routine infant vaccinations
• Booster of MenB should also be offered at 12-13 months
For any questions about the new MenB vaccine or another questions about meningitis and septicaemia please call MRF's Freefone helpline on 080 8800 3344 or log on to www.meningitis.org/menB