The only vaccine to protect against a deadly form of meningitis should not be offered to children in the U.K, immunisation experts say.
The new vaccine is the first to be licensed specifically for Meningitis B, one of the deadliest and most common strains of the disease.
Meningitis is a deadly disease that can kill in just four hours. Knowing the symptoms and acting fast can save lives.
Meningitis charities said thousands of lives could be saved if children had access to a vaccine that was today rejected by the Government.
Sue Davie, chief executive of the Meningitis Trust and Meningitis UK, said:
– Sue Davie
This is extremely disappointing news after all our supporters and our hard work over decades to introduce a vaccine.
We understand the committee's concerns about impact and cost, but we believe this vaccine is safe and we know it will save lives.
The more we delay, the more lives are being lost.
Meningitis UK estimates that there are 1,870 cases of meningitis B each year in the UK. It says that one in 10 people affected will die.
There is "insufficient" evidence available to support the introduction a Meningitis B immunisation, Government-appointed experts have said.
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) said the efficacy of the Bexsero vaccine "has not been established" and it is "high unlikely" to be cost-effective.
The vaccine was licensed by the European Medicines Agency at the start of the year.
A vaccine that protects against a potentially deadly form of meningitis should not be offered to children in the UK, immunisation experts have said.
The independent panel, which advises the Government on which vaccines should be offered in the UK, released a draft statement saying that the treatment against meningitis B should not be rolled out.
Meningitis B, which is most common in children under five years old, and in particular in babies under the age of one, is a highly aggressive strain of bacterial meningitis. It can cause severe brain damage, septicaemia or even death.
The founder of Meningitis UK, Steve Dayman, said burdens of the disease need to be taken into account when decisions are made about the Meningitis B vaccine.
Steve lost his 14-month-old son Spencer to meningitis and meningococcal septicaemia in 1982.
He said children like Tommy Brown, who was left severely disabled after contracting Meningitis B, will need "life long support".
He told Daybreak: "We feel it's not just the cost of rolling out the vaccine, we have to consider the burden of the disease as well."
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation will meet next month to discuss the cost-effectiveness and safety of the Meningitis B vaccine.
NHS officials said there is "no guarantee that the JCVI will rubber-stamp a positive decision" because the drug is expensive.
The experts are expected to make one of three decisions:
- To include the jab in the routine NHS vaccination schedule
- To provide the vaccine on the NHS to high risk groups
- For the vaccine to only be available to parents who wish to pay for it
Parents of a disabled toddler are calling on the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) to give the green light to the Bexsero vaccine.
– Mr Brown, Tommy Brown's father
We strongly support the campaign as we don't want anyone else to go through what we have - it still impacts on us now and will for life.
It's a horrendous disease that kills or leaves people like our Tommy with awful after-effects.
It's simple - there should be no question - the Government needs to act and put this great vaccine on the NHS immediately. It will save so many lives and stop others from suffering like Tommy, so everyone should rally behind Beat it Now.
– Ms Tuckley, Tommy Brown's mother
It can't help Tommy but it could help other kids.
We tell him he is our brave small soldier returning from war - injuries and all. It makes me cry to see him alert and looking about - then looking at where his hands and legs used to be, as if he is wondering where they are.
It was so painful to see him suffer and go through the operations, but he is remarkable and is superb at adapting - we're lucky to still have our beautiful boy.
The parents of a toddler who was left severely disabled after contracting Meningitis B are calling for a new jab to protect children against the potentially fatal disease.
Julie Tuckley, 37, said no children should have to go through what her son Tommy Brown did.
Tommy was struck down with the infection when he was five months old, and doctors said that he had just a 5% chance of survival.
But after a life saving operation, during which he had both of his legs, his right hand and left-hand fingers amputated, the 19-month-old survived.
Tommy's parents said that the "lifesaving" vaccine, which was approved for use by European health chiefs in January, should become routinely available on the NHS.
The UK has some of the highest rates of bacterial meningitis in Europe, charities have warned.
Around six families a week lose a loved one to meningitis, with as many as one in ten of those infected likely to die.
A new campaign is urging families to be more aware of meningitis symptoms:
- Severe headache
- Nausea (feeling sick)
- Vomiting (being sick)
- Feeling generally unwell
- Seizures or fits
- Being unable to tolerate bright lights
- A stiff neck
- A rapid breathing rate
- A blotchy red rash that does not fade or change colour when you place a glass against it
Meningitis charities have warned that more than two-thirds of parents in the UK are unaware that current vaccinations do not protect their children from all forms of meningitis.
A new campaign Meningitis: Keep Watching has urged parents and families to Pledge to Protect their children from meningitis by learning more about the disease and ensuring vaccinations are up to date.