The Meningitis Trust/Meningitis UK has expressed its frustration that a lifesaving vaccine for Meningitis B (Men B) is not yet going to be made available.
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), the independent body which advises the Government on vaccinations, says that the current evidence is insufficient to support a recommendation for the introduction of an immunisation programme. It calls for a population based evaluation of the vaccine, adding that the infrastructure and expertise available in the UK would make this country the ideal setting for such an evaluation.
Sue Davie, Chief Executive of the Meningitis Trust/Meningitis UK, said: “This is extremely disappointing news after all our supporters and our hard work over decades to introduce a vaccine. JCVI has invited the charity, as the voice for those affected by meningitis, to respond to its interim statement by Tuesday 3 September. It will consider this response and the advice of its meningococcal sub-committee at a meeting on 2 October, before finalising its advice and publishing its position statement.
“But we’re pleased to have the opportunity to respond and press our case,” Sue added. “We understand the committee’s concerns about impact and cost, but we believe this vaccine is safe and we know it will save lives. The more we delay the more lives are being lost.”
The charity has vowed to continue its fight to get the vaccine introduced and has called on its supporters to sign its Beat it Now! petition and write to their MP to get support.
“Help us to raise the funds we need for this fight and to continue to provide support to all those who will continue to be affected by meningitis before the vaccine is introduced. In the meantime, I would urge everyone to remain vigilant to the signs and symptoms,” Sue continued. Meningitis B (Men B) is the most common form of meningitis in the UK and kills more children under 5 than any other infection.
The UK has one of the highest Meningitis B incidence rates in the world, affecting an average of 1,870 people each year. One in ten people affected will die and one in three will be left with life-changing after-effects such as brain damage or limb loss. There are a large variety of Meningitis B strains in the UK – more than in many other countries – which makes producing a broad-range vaccine extremely difficult.
This is the first Meningitis B vaccine to be licensed for use in the UK. Studies show it should protect against 73 per cent of Meningitis B strains in the UK. It was created using a revolutionary new process called ‘reverse vaccinology’.
There are still several other deadly forms of meningitis such as Group B Streptococcal, which do not have vaccines. Meningitis Trust/Meningitis UK, who merged in April, have pledged to carry on campaigning until everyone is protected against all forms of the disease as well as ensuring all those affected get the support they need.