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Provide jab now, pleads mum who went through double meningitis scare

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James and Denise Brady with their children Ryan and Sarah Ann, who both survived meningitis scares

James and Denise Brady with their children Ryan and Sarah Ann, who both survived meningitis scares

James and Denise Brady with their children Ryan and Sarah Ann, who both survived meningitis scares

A mother who helplessly watched both her children battle deadly meningitis - seven years apart - says she hopes the Government will extend the vaccination programme for the disease's B strain "sooner rather than later".

It is every parent's nightmare but for Denise and James Brady that nightmare came true not once but twice when meningitis hit both their babies.

They watched as their tiny son was given the last rites for the meningitis B strain - the vaccine for which is only available free to children born after October 2016.

At present, the vaccine for the C strain is freely available to all children but parents of those born before October 2016 have to fork out up to €300 per child for the meningitis B shots.

Thousands of people have signed an online petition calling on Health Minister Simon Harris to implement a catch-up programme for all children and teens, in the wake of 11 cases of the disease in recent weeks. In October 2004, the Bradys, from Co Meath, were revelling in becoming new parents to one-month premature baby Ryan, who was suffering from colic and acid reflux.

"He cried a lot anyway because of the reflux, but this day he was crying even more, nodding off and not feeding well," said Denise.

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Sarah Anne and Ryan Brady

Sarah Anne and Ryan Brady

Sarah Anne and Ryan Brady

Downhill

"He had a temperature - which I've since been told babies never get unless it's serious - so I gave him Calpol and rang a friend of mine in Temple Street Hospital who checked him for a stiff neck but he seemed fine.

"He developed a high-pitched cry that night so the doctor told us to take him to Temple Street the next morning, despite him not really having any of the signs of meningitis.

"However, he went downhill rapidly on the way there and a lumbar puncture in hospital confirmed our worst fears of meningococcal meningitis.

"He was placed on antibiotics straightaway and a priest came to give him the last rites.

"Thankfully, his recovery kicked in on day three and, after a long stay in hospital, he was able to come home with no side effects. He's now 14."

On March 11, 2011, the Ratoath couple welcomed into the world, also a month early, their daughter Sarah Ann after miscarriages and interventions.

"The staff knew I was very anxious about meningitis so they gave Sarah Ann a shot of something in the birth canal and then injections for the next two days to try to rid her of any of the deadly bacteria," said Denise.

Yet devastation was to strike again when the new arrival became ill at just 10 weeks old.

"I knew the signs to watch out for so when she developed a temperature and her fontanelle started to bulge, I rang the VHI nurse helpline. I knew, I just knew and as the nurse was asking me questions, I was already packing a bag for Temple Street.

"Again a lumbar puncture confirmed she had meningitis and she was started on a generic antibiotic right away. Luckily, she was caught early."

"Hopefully the vaccine will be provided by the State sooner rather than later but, in the meantime, I absolutely would encourage every parent to explore the option of getting the vaccine."


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