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Footing the bill to protect our son from Meningitis


Few words trigger the horror response in a parent like ‘Meningitis’.


Meningitis B is the leading cause of life-threatening meningitis in the UK and the leading cause of death from infection in young children. 

The good news is that after 25 years of research there’s finally a vaccine which has been recommended for inclusion in the NHS immunisation schedule.


The bad news is the Government is still haggling with the drug companies to get the vaccination at a cost-effective price, which means it’s not yet widely available.


But those of us who are fortunate enough to be able to raid the savings can pay to have our children vaccinated privately. It’s not fair, I know. But it’s a start.


I’m writing this because I knew nothing about the vaccination until a friend mentioned it this week. I’m writing this because I’ve seen first-hand the devastating effect meningitis can have. I know a beautiful little girl who lost a leg and her toes on the other foot due to septicemia but thankfully survived meningitis and I know that if a vaccination had been available at the time her parents would have been first in the queue.


I called a GP friend this week to ask for his advice. He didn’t hesitate: “Get the vaccination.”


The government is recommending that all babies aged 2, 4 and 12 months are vaccinated.  But it’ll take time before the vaccine is widely available to be given to all babies across the UK.


Currently in the UK and Ireland, stocks of the vaccine (brand name Bexsero) have been made available privately. It is also available free to people in the UK with medical conditions that increase their risk of the disease. 


Other forms of meningitis have been massively reduced thanks to effective vaccinations but developing a MenB vaccination was trickier. It is hoped that the new vaccination will cover 88% of MenB circulating in the UK.


Babies and children who are older than 4 months by the time the vaccine is rolled out won’t get the vaccine on the NHS.


It’s a depressing sign of the times that the children whose parents can afford the vaccine will receive the greatest protection and that there won’t be enough money in the pot to give the vaccine to older babies on the NHS.


But it’s also tremendous to see the successes medical research is having.  Littl’un and I are heading off to a private clinic this week – he’s 18 months old so wouldn’t be entitled on the NHS anyway.  He'll need two vaccinations (2 months apart) and each is costing £130. I'll let you know how we get on.


I hope that in getting the word out we can help protect many more local children


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