Government doctors to reconsider whether UK should vaccinate all children against deadly disease meningitis B
Britain has fourth highest meningitis B levels in Europe
Charlie Cooper is Health Correspondent for The Independent, i, and The Independent on Sunday, writing on the NHS, medical advances, and international health. Since joining the papers as an editorial assistant, he has been nominated for young journalist of the year at both the Press Awards and the British Journalism Awards.
Wednesday 13 November 2013
Government doctors will reconsider whether the UK should vaccinate all children against the deadly disease meningitis B, having previously said immunisation would not be cost-effective.
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCV) said that “a number of key issues and themes” had emerged from a consultation following their announcement in July, and pledged “a further careful review of the evidence”.
The UK has the fourth highest meningitis B levels in Europe. There were 613 cases in 2011-12, and 33 deaths – including 15 children under four-years-old. One in 10 survivors suffer from major physical or neurological disabilities.
A vaccine, Bexsero, developed by the Swiss pharmaceutical giant Novartis, has been licenced for use in Europe. Evidence suggests it can protect against 73 per cent of the bacteria that cause the disease.
In July, the JCVI said that giving the vaccine to children in the UK was unlikely to be cost-effective – a decision that was met with dismay by meningitis patients and their families.
Christopher Head, chief executive of the Meningitis Research Foundation, said it was “encouraging” that the JCVI was reassessing the evidence and called on people to contact their MPs to highlight the impact of the disease.
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