WONDERFUL news – what we’ve been waiting for and campaigning many years for.
Those were the words of campaigner Angela Cloke following the Government’s announcement that the first lifesaving vaccine for Meningitis B – the most common form of bacterial Meningitis in the UK – will be free on the NHS for all babies, subject to price negotiations.
Mrs Cloke’s son Sam contracted Meningitis B in 2000 when he was 18 months old.
He has since made a good recovery with just a few complications.
But he is one of the lucky ones.
Many people are left with life-changing complications such as limb loss, brain damage and epilepsy while many others die from the disease.
Ever since Sam was struck down by Meningitis B Angela has been tirelessly campaigning for better awareness, treatment and vaccinations against it.
And some of her wishes have come true in the form of the revolutionary Bexsero vaccination announcement.
“It is wonderful news and I’m delighted the Government has made the right decision to fund the vaccination and protect future generations against this terrible disease,” she told The Observer.
“The Government is still in discussions with pharmaceutical companies over a cost-effective price for the vaccination – but no price should be put on people’s health and lives – and we will be keeping up the pressure.”
The UK has one of the highest Meningitis B incidence rates in the world, affecting an average of 1,870 people each year, most of whom are babies and children.
It kills more children under five than any other infectious disease in the UK.
Meningitis Now, the UK’s largest meningitis charity’s latest figures suggest that around 675 Meningitis B cases in the UK could have been prevented since the vaccine was licensed for use in January 2013.
At least 200 people could have been saved from death or disability in that time.
Despite the vaccination being ‘a major step forward in the fight against Meningitis’ Mrs Cloke has vowed to keep campaigning for a catch-up immunisation scheme to protect infants and teenagers – not just the babies who will be protected by the vaccine.
“Meningtis can strike anyone of any age, so I will be campaigning for a catch-up programme to protect infants and teenagers,” she added.
“Although this vaccine will gradually see the eradication of Meningitis B, people still need to be vigilant and to know the signs of the disease to ensure speedy treatment and recovery of those not vaccinated.”