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Meningitis B vaccine on the NHS welcomed in Gloucestershire

By Gloucestershire Echo  |  Posted: March 23, 2014

Sophie Walker

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Campaigners in Gloucestershire say they are over the moon that a vaccine protecting children against a deadly form of meningitis will be introduced on the NHS.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation has told the Government to adopt a jab to immunise infants against meningitis B.

It means youngsters will be protected against the killer disease from the age of two months old.

Families in Gloucestershire who have experienced the devastating effects of meningitis B said it would save thousands of lives.

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Gordon and Christine Meek, from Innsworth, lost their son David to meningitis in 1993, when he was eight years old.

Gordon said: “We are absolutely delighted about the news.

“I never thought I’d live to see this happen.

“David was just eight years old when he died so once this comes in it means children of his age would be protected. Hopefully many parents won’t have to go through the suffering we did.

“I just hope the Government moves quickly and brings it in as soon as possible.

“There is still so much to do in terms of raising awareness but this is a fantastic step forwards.”

The sentiments were echoed by David Walker, from Prestbury, whose eight-month-old daughter Hannah died of pneumococcal meningitis in 2003.

“We are very pleased about it,” said David, 53.

“Hannah had a different strain of meningitis but its affects are very similar to those of meningitis B, so it’s very good news that children will be vaccinated against it.”

About 1,760 people in the UK contract meningitis B each year and one in 10 dies.

“Babies under one year old are most at risk and the cases peak at around five or six months of age.

The bacterial infection causes inflammations of the brain and spinal cord.

It leaves around a third of people with life-altering effects, such as brain damage or limb loss.

Meningitis Now, the UK’s largest meningitis charity, hailed news of the vaccine as a landmark decision.

Founder Steve Dayman, who lost his baby Spencer to meningitis B in 1982, said: “This is the most monumental announcement in the fight against the disease in the 31 years I have campaigned to eradicate meningitis.

“It is the decision we’ve pushed for, to have the meningitis B vaccine given free to all infants. There is no doubt that it will save thousands of lives and spare survivors and their families the pain of living with life-changing after-effects.

“We thank our supporters for their determined campaigning and the JCVI for listening to our arguments on the true burden of this disease.”

The Department of Health will start negotiations with Novartis, which produces the vaccine, as soon as possible.

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