Friday, 26 February 2016

A Record Breaking Petition

As the petition asking the government to offer the Meningitis B vaccine to all children reaches 807,998 signatures, there has been confirmation that the issue will be debated in the House of Commons.   A date for this has yet to be announced.

Meanwhile, the media continue to pick up the story and, following last week's article in the Shropshire Star, it has now also been printed in the Telford Journal, Bridgnorth Journal and BBC Radio Shropshire have asked me for an interview this Sunday.

So, to reiterate, the Meningitis B vaccine would not have protected Adam from contracting Group b Strep Meningitis at birth, as these two varieties of Meningitis are triggered by different bacteria.

However, Meningitis in any form is a deadly disease that can kill and, for survivors, cause lifelong disabilities.  So where a vaccine exists to prevent infections, then I believe it should be made available to all of those known to be at greatest risk.  As I understand it, children under the age of one are at greatest risk, children under five next, then children under eleven and then teenagers under eighteen.

For this reason, I think it is an excellent step to roll out the vaccine against Meningitis B to children under the age of one, but this programme now needs to be expanded to all children.

As my son, Adam, is four years old, he is in the group of children at second greatest risk of Meningitis infections and, having already nearly lost his life to Group b Strep Meningitis, any strain of this deadly infection remains my worst fear.   However, if I wish to vaccinate Adam against Meningitis B, a private dose would cost in the region of £300, even if I could access it and, with global supplies of Bexsero critically low, this becomes nearly impossible for the foreseeable future.

Anything that can be done to minimise the risk and even prevent the possibility of my son - or any child - being infected by Meningitis, should be done.  We may not yet be able to vaccinate against Group b Strep Meningitis, but we can vaccinate against Meningitis B - so we must.

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