Parents in plea for brain bug vaccine

Currently only babies born after May 1, 2015 are eligible for the vaccine
Currently only babies born after May 1, 2015 are eligible for the vaccine
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Parents are becoming increasingly concerned about the shortage of a life-saving vaccine for their children.

Hundreds have attempted to have their youngsters immunised against Meningococcal B disease following the tragic high-profile death of two-year-old baby Faye Burdett on Valentine’s Day.

Vaccination against the illness was introduced as part of the National Health Service childhood immunisation programme last autumn, but ONLY babies born after May 1, 2015 are eligible for the NHS service.

Jabs for anyone else must be paid for privately but such is the demand following Faye’s death, stocks of the vaccine are in short supply and there is now a waiting list.

One Standish mum who asked not to be named, acknowledges that she will have to pay for the vaccine because her daughter is now two, but says she was shocked to contact the biggest private vaccinations company in the country, MASTA, and be told that all they could offer was a place on the waiting list and a frustrating wait until mid- summer at the earliest.

She is now urging Wiganers to support an e-petition to Parliament calling for the NHS to adopt a national policy of free meningitis vaccinations for ALL under fives.

The marketing executive said she had become concerned for her daughter’s health after reading the heart-breaking story about baby Faye Burdett’s brave, but ultimately tragically unsuccessful, battle for life.

She said: “You can’t read these stories in the national press or see meningitis highlighted on the television without being worried for your own child.

“As a mum if you can stop it - and this vaccination is said to leave your child 90 per cent protected - you do everything you can. I’m not saying we will find it that easy to find the money because it costs between £95 and £135 per vaccination and I am told it is a course of three, but you scrape it together, don’t you?

“Having said that I think it is terribly unfair on parents of toddlers who haven’t had the vaccinations yet and just can’t afford them privately.

“Which is why I have signed this e-petition calling for the NHS to change its rules and I am urging as many people as possible to do the same so that it can be debated by the MPs and we can get them to think again.”

A spokesman for MASTA said that Meningococcal group B bacteria was a serious cause of life-threatening infection, including meningitis and blood poisoning.

It was now the leading infectious killer of babies and young children with 12 known groups of meningococcal bacteria, while the group B virus (Men B) was responsible for about 90 per cent of meningococcal infections in the country.

The spokesman said: “Over recent days, the demand for the vaccination has reached unprecedented levels, and the manufacturer of the vaccine has released a statement to confirm that they are experiencing supply constraints during the first half of this year.

“In response to this, MASTA is maintaining a waiting list and asking parents to express their interest via email expressing their preferred clinic.”

A Department of Health spokesperson said: “When any new immunisation programme is introduced, there has to be a date to determine eligibility - a decision based on the best independent clinical recommendation to ensure we can protect those children most at risk of MenB.

To sign the petition petition visit https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/108072.