Citizen Letter: Plea to over vaccine

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The UK’S meningitis charities have joined forces and written to the Prime Minister David Cameron.

In 2011, Mr Cameron said that the idea of children dying from preventable diseases is unthinkable in this day and age and pledged to save lives in the developing world by ensuring vaccine availability.

Yet UK children are still exposed to a deadly disease which can kill them in hours or leave them severely disabled. This is Meningitis B, the most common form of meningitis in the UK. It kills more children aged under five than any other infection.

Thankfully, help is in sight. In January, a new Meningitis B vaccine – Bexsero® – received a licence from the European Commission. It is the first Meningitis B vaccine licensed for use in the UK and can save thousands of lives. Over the next few weeks, the UK Government is considering whether to introduce this vaccine into the Routine Childhood Immunisation Schedule, so it will be given to children through the NHS.

We are determined to ensure this lifesaving vaccine is introduced as soon as possible, and the support of your readers is crucial for achieving this. We also want to make sure the vaccine isn’t delayed by the major changes currently taking place in the NHS.

On average, 1,870 cases of Meningitis B occur in the UK every year – every one life-changing, regardless of the outcome. One in 10 people who contract the disease will die and one in three will be left with devastating after-effects, such as limb loss or brain damage. So, with every day that passes until this vaccine is introduced, many more lives are destroyed.

We believe the lives of our children must be made a priority. Only when the Meningitis B vaccine is introduced into the immunisation schedule will it change the meningitis landscape forever, saving lives and preventing children facing a lifetime of suffering.

We will continue campaigning for vaccination and raising awareness of the disease and its symptoms. And we urge everyone to be aware of this issue and support the need for a Meningitis B vaccine.

Chris Head, CEO Meningitis Research Foundation

Sue Davie, CEO Meningitis Trust & CEO Meningitis UK.