In February, we released an article discussing the unprecedented growth of a UK meningitis B petition, driven by the release of harrowing pictures of two year old meningitis victim, Faye Burdett. A month on, we have been overwhelmed by the remarkable progress in the fight against wider immunisation for this potentially deadly disease.
The petition, which asks the UK government to introduce a rollout programme to vaccinate all children up to age 11, currently stands at over 820,000 signatures. Despite the success of the petition, the UK government are sceptical about the ‘cost effectiveness’ of increasing childhood immunisation schedules. In response, four parliamentary sessions were held to give parents of affected families, meningitis charities, health professionals and the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) an opportunity to provide their views on the current vaccination schedule and proposals for improvements.
Representing the panel for leading meningitis charities were two of our members, the Meningitis Research Foundation and Meningitis Now. Both organisations raised excellent points regarding the practicality of the current cost effectiveness framework, encouraged an adolescent intervention study, and proposed further vaccinations for the under-fives, as the most vulnerable age group.
Since this meeting, it has been decided that the UK parliament will debate the result of the petition on 25th April 2016. This debate will review suggestions and criticisms raised in the parliamentary meetings and will aim to make progressive decisions regarding childhood vaccination.
CoMO believes that these developments have been successful in raising awareness of the severity of meningitis as well as the preventative measures that are available. It is hoped that the sudden increased awareness of the dangers of meningitis will mean other countries will also begin introducing the vaccine into their National Immunisation Programmes.