A year after introducing a lifesaving vaccine, millions of young children remain at risk from infection by the meningococcal group B bacteria.
On Tuesday, September 1, last year the UK became the first country in the world to introduce the revolutionary new meningococcal group B (Men B) vaccine, Bexsero to under ones through the NHS.
Despite this, more than one child a month may have contracted the deadly Men B infection and up to five children may have needlessly died. Many of those who have contracted Men B will be living with life-changing after-effects.
Meningitis Now, the UK’s largest meningitis charity, believes had the decision been made by the Government to vaccinate all under 5s, these tragedies could have been avoided.
Parents like Jenny Burdett, whose daughter Faye’s death sparked an unprecedented 823,346 signatures to a UK-wide petition, have renewed calls for the vaccine to be made available to all young children at risk.
Jenny said: “As a family who has been through the devastation of meningitis, we feel that all children should be protected from this cruel disease that took our daughter. It’s not just about Faye’s death but also about the maiming of children that survive the disease; it is life changing for a child and their family. Prevention must be better.”
Until the decision is made to extend the age range of the vaccine, an estimated 2.1 million children under five remain at risk from Men B. Meningitis continues to kill more children under five than any other infectious disease.
Liz Brown, Meningitis Now chief executive, said: “The introduction of the Men B vaccine was a milestone in the prevention of this killer disease – it’s such a shame the Government didn’t go that extra step and protect all children most at risk.
“The recent decision by the JCVI, not to vaccinate children up to the age of two years, due to vaccine shortages, exacerbates the need for the government to take action.
“We call upon Secretary of State for Health; Jeremy Hunt to mark the anniversary by taking that extra step now and introduce the vaccine for all children up to the age of five.”
Meningitis Now is collecting signatures to add to a letter to Jeremy Hunt, as part of its campaign. To add your name visit: www.meningitisnow.org/how-we-help/campaigns/give-children-voice/