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Blog: Government must act now to introduce Meningitis B vaccine

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Government must act now to introduce Meningitis B vaccine
Colin Ettinger | 19 Dec 2014

As the new year approaches and a general election looms, I hope one of the Government’s resolutions will be to move faster in negotiations to introduce a meningitis B vaccine for babies.

Meningitis B is a highly aggressive strain of bacterial meningitis which infects the protective membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord. The UK has one of the highest meningitis B incidents rates in the world, affecting an average of 1,870 people each year. Anyone can get the strain, with one in ten affected people dying, and one in three survivors suffering lifelong after-effects. It kills more children under five than any other infectious disease in the UK. And meningitis B kills in hours.

Last March the Government announced that the UK's first lifesaving vaccine for meningitis B will be free on the NHS for babies. This vaccine, Bexsero, was first licensed by the European commission in January 2013. Unfortunately, the vaccine has still not been introduced. The Department of Health is still in negotiations with Novartis (the manufacturer of Bexsero) to agree the price at which the vaccine can be introduced into the NHS childhood immunisation programme. 

When it is finally introduced, the vaccine will be offered to babies from two months of age. A total of three doses will be given at two, four and 12 months. Babies who are already three and four months old when the vaccine is introduced will also be offered it as part of one-off catch up programme. The vaccine is already available on the NHS for a small number of children who are at risk of infection, at a cost to the NHS of £75 a dose. These include children with no spleen or those with a disorder of the immune system called complement deficiency. 

There have been some 1,000 new cases of meningitis B since this vaccine first became available and the cost to the NHS of treating those with this terrible illness is huge. The need for wider application of the vaccine is urgent. The Government cannot afford to drag its heels in agreeing a price for the widespread use of the vaccine. This misery has to end now.

Past blog entries

Accident and negligence: what’s the difference and why does it matter? , 02 Aug 2021
Patient safety problems risk waning public confidence in the NHS , 20 May 2021
Consumers will not benefit from Do-it-Yourself whiplash reforms, 28 Jan 2021
Effects of a change in the discount rate: what happens when a review is expected? , 16 Dec 2020
Three per cent drop in premiums does not reflect massive insurer savings, 09 Nov 2020
What help is out there for families when someone is injured?, 02 Nov 2020
Blindly heading into the unknown for injured people?, 09 Dec 2019
Lessons in looking after one another , 18 Nov 2019

About this blog

Colin Ettinger

Colin is head of their personal injury department at Irwin Mitchell's London office and he has been practising personal injury litigation for over 35 years. He is a past president of APIL and was re-elected to the executive committee in 2013. He is a regular lecturer on issues concerning personal injury cases including damages, aspects of health and safety at work, and, has lectured extensively on rehabilitation.