New UK wide Meningitis B Vaccination Programme to be introduced this Autumn

14th, August 2015

As part of his weekly health column, Dr. Roger Brown, Private GP at Kingsbridge Private Hospital, shares his insight into an important Government initiative to roll out a new programme of vaccinations against meningitis.

As part of his weekly health column, Dr. Roger Brown, Private GP at Kingsbridge Private Hospital, shares his insight into an important Government initiative to roll out a new programme of vaccinations against meningitis.

 

GPs and doctors all over the UK are delighted that the Government has announced a deal with the manufacturers of the Meningitis B vaccine and the rollout of a new vaccination programme to protect our children from the devastating effects of this disease.

 

It is vital that parents of young children come forward with their children to have this vaccination. England and Scotland will be rolled out in September. There is no date set yet for the introduction of the campaign in Northern Ireland, but hopefully it will be later this year.

 

The vaccine will be made available for babies between 2 months and a year old, however there is no provision yet for older children or young adults, particularly males in their teens who are the main group who can contract and spread the disease.

 

Health campaigners will be pressing the Government to extend availability of the vaccine to older age groups as speedily as possible. In the meantime, the vaccination is available in the private sector. There are several strains of Meningitis B and 80% are covered by the new vaccination, so it is very worthwhile having it.

 

Around 1 in 10 children infected by meningitis die and 4 out of 10 are left with serious repercussions of the disease like limb amputation, seizures and learning difficulties. These figures actually reflect an improvement in outcomes in the last 25 years!

 

It is a truly frightening disease for both families and the medical profession because, although we do have effective antibiotics against the Meningococcal infection and safe emergency protocols, the end result is often death or serious consequences.

 

Meningitis B is the worst of all types of Meningitis and causes the most serious problems - yet it is the last to have an effective vaccine protecting against it. We already have effective vaccines against Meningitis A&C, Pneumococcus and Haemophilus influenzae B. There isn't yet a vaccination against Viral Meningitis but this is a less serious form of the illness.

 

The vaccine for Meningitis B has been available in the private healthcare sector since December 2013, bringing great comfort to the families who could afford it, so we should rejoice that soon the next generation can be properly protected.

 

But for those who have lost a child or have been through the testing time of watching their child suffer terribly because of Meningitis B, we feel sadness that this has come too late for them.

 

Dr. Brown is a Private GP at Kingsbridge Private Hospital Belfast, available from 9-8pm Monday to Friday and 9-5pm Saturday.

Find out more about the 5-star Kingsbridge Private Hospital


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