14 September 2015
International charity Meningitis Research Foundation is encouraging the public to take up new free meningitis vaccines for babies, teenagers and first time university students during Meningitis Awareness Week (14 -20 September).
On 1 September the UK introduced the world’s first comprehensive vaccination programme for babies against meningococcal B (MenB) meningitis and septicaemia into the UK’s immunisation programme. MenB is a deadly disease that can strike anyone of any age without warning, but babies, children under five and young adults are most at risk.
If cases continue as they have in the past, over the next decade this vaccine could POTENTIALLY prevent UP TO 4,000 cases of meningococcal disease in children younger than 5 years in the UK.
The disease kills one in ten, leaving a third of survivors with life altering after-effects as severe as deafness, brain damage to loss of limbs.
Also, a meningococcal ACWY (Men ACWY) vaccination programme began in August for 14 to 18 year old schoolchildren and 19 to 25 year olds starting university for the first time. The programme for youngsters was prompted by an alarming rise of a deadly new strain of meningococcal W meningitis and septicaemia (MenW), identified by MRF’s ground-breaking Meningococcus Genome Library project.
The UK are world leaders in vaccine protection against meningitis and the new MenB vaccine joins others against meningococcal C, Hib and pneumococcal meningitis and septicaemia already in the UK immunisation programme.
The charity’s Chief Executive Chris Head commented, “MRF’s pioneering research has contributed to the adoption of the MenB vaccine in the UK and identified the cause of the rise in MenW so we’re delighted with the introduction of these new vaccines which we hope will further reduce the number of cases in the UK. However we wish to remind the public that there are still some forms of the disease which are not covered by these vaccines so it is vital that people are still aware of the symptoms of meningitis and septicaemia.”
MRF estimates that meningitis and septicaemia affect 3,200 people in the UK every year. Globally around 1,000 people die from meningitis every single day.
The Meningitis Research Foundation charity is now seeking support from the public to enable funding of research to maintain and evaluate the effectiveness of the new MenB vaccine.
For any questions about meningitis, septicaemia and vaccination against the diseases call MRF’s Freefone helpline on 080 8800 3344 or log on to www.meningitis.org
Click here to download a PDF of the symptoms