The Confederation of Meningitis Organisations is delighted at the news that the Meningitis B vaccine will now be available free of charge to babies in Ireland. Families in Ireland have previously only been able to immunise their children privately at a high cost, causing wide variations in the accessibility of the vaccine for parents. CoMO welcomes the decision to introduce the Men B vaccine free of charge as part of the Primary Childhood Immunisation Schedule. The vaccine will be offered to babies at 2 months, 4 months and 13 months from September 2016.
We also congratulate our members, ‘Meningitis Research Foundation’ and ‘ACT for Meningitis’ in Ireland. Both organisations have campaigned tirelessly for the increased availability for the vaccine against this life-threatening disease. It is hoped this vaccine will significantly reduce the cases of meningitis in Ireland, where there is currently the highest incidence of MenB in Europe. 1 in 10 cases of the disease results in death and 1 in 3 survivors are left with severe disabilities such as limb amputation, brain damage and deafness.
Whilst this is an excellent development for Ireland CoMO continues to stress the burden of meningitis cases worldwide, and emphasises that anyone of any age can develop the disease. All children under 5 and teenagers are most at risk.
Dianne McConnell, Deputy CEO of Meningitis Research Foundation, said “We would like to see everyone protected against MenB, and vaccinating teenagers could be the solution to this because they are key to transmission and spread. We need to find out if the vaccine can stop teenagers picking up and passing on the bacteria.” Siobhan Carroll, CEO of ACT for Meningitis, expressed her delight at the progress in the fight against meningitis, but added “There is so much more to do as we would like to see the Men B vaccine extended to other at risk age groups and a catch up programme rolled out".
CoMO is currently working on a European Life Course Immunisation Initiative, which encourages a life course approach to vaccination in order to prevent meningitis at all ages.
CoMO greatly values this progress in Ireland in the continuous fight for widespread immunisation from meningitis. We hope more countries will adopt the MenB vaccine into their National Immunisation Programmes to achieve a more cohesive, global approach to the prevention of meningitis.