At the moment, there is a petition on the UK Government website calling for the Meningitis B Vaccine to be extended to ALL children under age 11, instead of just being offered to babies. As I write this post, the petition has attracted 497,881 signatures which means that it will be debated in the House of Commons (any petition over 100,000 signatures falls into this category). I am one of the people who has signed this petition and so I am delighted it has gained so much support, and I will be quoted in the Shropshire Star as saying so.
As the mother of a child who has been infected with meningitis and who is disabled for life as a result, I would not wish this hell on any other person - parent or child. At present, because he is over the age threshold, if I want Adam vaccinated against Meningitis B, then I would have to pay over £100 for the two injections that complete this vaccination. If paying this amount means protecting Adam, then I am willing to do this, but if the vaccine is available free of charge to some children in the UK, then it should be available to all children.
However, I also think it is important to say that this vaccine would NOT have protected Adam against the Group b Strep Meningitis that he contracted at birth - there are a number of different bacteria that can cause meningitis but GBS Meningitis and Meningitis B are caused by different bacteria. While research is ongoing into the development of a vaccine against Group b Strep, such a vaccine is at least 10-15 years away.
But, regardless of which bacteria actually triggers the infection, meningitis is an incredibly serious infection of the lining of the brain that can very easily be fatal, and often causes life-long disabilities even in those who do survive. There are approximately 3,200 cases of meningitis in the UK each year and anything that can be done to prevent these horrible infections, and to increase immunity to them, should be done. With a vaccine now readily available, all children should be given access to it through the NHS.
If you would like more information on the difference between Group b Strep Meningitis and Meningitis B, then please visit the GBSS website for a clear explanation: Strep B versus Meningitis B
If you would like to add your signature to the Meningitis B petition, you can do so here: "Give the Meningitis B vaccine to ALL children, not just newborn babies."
And, if you would like to add your signature to the latest petition calling for testing and prevention of Group b Strep in the UK, then please visit here: Change.org Petition and UK Parliament Petition