The UK will become the first nation to have a Meningitis B vaccination program. All the babies in the UK will be getting a life saving vaccine shot for Meningitis B. This was announced by the Health Secretary today.
The Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, said that UK is going to become the first country to have a nationwide meningitis B vaccination program. The UK government and the drug manufacturers have come to an understanding and the vaccination program is to start from September.
Efforts to get every child over two months vaccinated against meningitis B started in the right earnest in 2014 but the program was delayed by long negotiations over costs with manufacturers. The drug will now be added to the nation’s childhood immunization program. All babies, two months old will be receiving their first dose of meningitis B vaccination followed by two more doses.
Mr Hunt said, “I am very proud that we will be the first country in the world to have a nationwide Men B vaccination program, helping to protect our children from a devastating disease. Men B can be severely disabling or fatal, especially in babies and young children. Losing a child is every parent’s worst nightmare so I am delighted that we have reached an agreement with GSK to supply the vaccine.”
It is a welcome endeavor and Meningitis charities said the program would save lives.
Sue Davie, chief executive of Meningitis Now said, “To know that babies will be protected against MenB is fantastic and another great step forward in our fight against meningitis. Families for whom this comes too late, and for whom we will always be here to support, have campaigned tirelessly and selflessly with us to make sure no other families suffer as they have.”
British government was initially in talks with Novartis which owned the vaccine but it has since been acquired by GSK. GSK has agreed to the deal. Babies are already being immunized for Meningitis C with a booster when they reach the age of 14.
Matthew Snape, a vaccine expert at University of Oxford, said, “Developing a vaccine against meningitis B has been an enormous challenge, and it is great to see that this vaccine will now be available for all 2-month-olds in the UK. Importantly, this vaccine should not only protect against meningitis B, but also against a newly emergent meningitis W strain that is causing particularly severe infections.”
There are plans to cover another strain of Meningitis, Meningitis Y which is causing concern in the health circles because of its virulent and aggressive nature.