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Friday 29 August 2014

New meningitis B vaccine to be made free in Britain

Published 20/03/2014 | 23:45

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A new vaccine against meningitis B – one of the most feared diseases, which can quickly kill children or leave them needing limb amputations – is to be made available free in Britain.

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The UK's Department of Health is expected to announce tomorrow that it has reversed a recommendation made last October by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) not to introduce the Bexsero vaccine as part of the UK’s routine child immunisation programme.

Meanwhile, in Ireland, tonight RTE's Prime Time highlighted how the vaccine - which is seen as almost 75 per cent effective - is still not available here.

The vaccine was approved by the European Medicines Agency in November 2012 and licensed by the European Commission in January last year.

Last month almost 200 leading scientists and researchers signed a public petition and letter describing meningitis and meningococcal disease as “a parent’s greatest fear”, and pointed to the JCVI calculation as “underestimating” the realities of the disease for both children and their families.

Professor Alf Nicholson, Consultant Paediatrician at Temple Street Hospital told Prime Time tonight that the mortality rate for meningitis B is 1 in 20 children. Ten per cent of children who contract it will be left with a significant, ongoing disability.

There were 82 cases of meningitis B in Ireland last year.

Each vaccine costs €180 - and each child requires two vaccines plus one booster.

Independent News Service

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