Over the weekend the the Department of Health and Scottish Government announced that they will be introducing meningitis immunisation in England and Scotland.
From September 2015, vaccination for babies against meningococcal group B (MenB) will be introduced into the routine immunisation program for children. All new born babies in England and Scotland will be offered the Men B vaccine. The vaccine will be given to babies at two months, four months and 12 months old.
From August 2015, 17 and 18 year olds will be offered a one off vaccine against meningococcal groups ACWY (Men ACWY).
The introduction of this vaccine has come following sustained pressure from the Meningitis Research Foundation (MRF). Initially the Joint Committee on Vaccination & Immunisation recommended that immunisations aimed at combating meningitis should not be introduced at that time due to the costs involved (see our earlier blog).
The MRF wrote a detailed letter to the Prime Minister, David Cameron, urging him to give proper consideration to the issue and challenging the basis of the cost/benefit argument. It was suggested that the cost of lifelong care and support for survivors of the disease (who often suffer amputation, hearing loss or brain damage) far outweighed the cost of a national vaccination programme for infants.
The new immunisation programs have been welcomed by the MRF. Chief Executive Christopher Head commented,
“We are delighted that MenB is to be introduced as Meningitis Research Foundation has been working for many years on a MenB vaccine supporting vital research into its development and testing, and campaigning for its introduction. We are also happy that our Meningococcal Genome Library has played an important part in the decision to introduce a MenACWY vaccine for 17 and 18 year olds. Our research program will now help with the implementation and evaluation of the MenB vaccination program and our helpline will be available to answer questions about both the vaccination programs.” See more here.
If you have experienced problems arising out of a failure to diagnose or treat meningitis, the Clarke Willmott LLP Clinical Negligence Team may be able to assist you in finding answers to your questions.