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.
Bacterial meningitis kills more children under five in the UK than any other infectious disease, a study has found.
The UK is one of the top three meningitis hotspots in Europe, with six people dying from it each week, leading meningitis charities said.
The charities are calling for parents to learn the signs and symptoms so they can act fast if they suspect their child has it.
Professor Simon Kroll, a Paediatric and Meningitis specialist, has described the next stage for the vaccine:
"The next stage is discussion between the Department of Health and the manufacturers, and ultimately it's up to Government to decide how the vaccine is introduced in to the schedule - but we haven't got that point yet."
Helen Dolphin contracted Meningitis when she was twenty-two and contracted Meningitis. In order to save her life doctors had to amputate all four of her limbs. She said today's new vaccine has been a long time coming. She said:
"It is amazing to think in this day and age we can have a virus that can cause this much devastation, to so many people. The work that has been done, to find a vaccine, it has taken years to get there, and I fully support its implementation"
A new Meningitis B vaccine, approved for UK use today, "will save thousands of lives, especially among children under five, who are most at risk from the disease", according to Meningitis UK.
The vaccine is the first to be licensed specifically for Meningitis B, one of the deadliest and most common strains of the disease:
- Meningitis B is the most common form of the disease in the UK, affecting 1,870 people each year, many of them children
- One in 10 people who contract the disease will die
- One in four will be left with life-changing after effects, such as brain damage or limb loss
A new vaccine against Meningitis B has been approved for use in the UK.
The vaccine, developed by pharmaceutical giant Bexsero, received its licence from the European Commission today.
Meningitis UK is urging the Government to make the vaccine part of the NHS childhood immunisation schedule, so that it "will save as many lives as possible".
Meningitis UK is warning parents to look out for signs of the virus as children return to the classroom. The charity says there is often a back to school surge in cases.
Doctors say the symptoms are harder to identify but include a fever while the hands and feet are cold, high pitched moaning or whimpering, blank staring, inactivity and also hard to wake up. Other symptoms include:
- Poor feeding
- Neck retraction with arching of the back
- Pale and blotchy complexion
The bacteria only rarely give rise to meningococcal disease, but when they do infection spreads rapidly and is fatal in about 10% of cases. If disease is diagnosed early and treated promptly most people make a full recovery.
About 1 in 8 people who recover experience some long term effects. These can include headaches, stiffness in the joints, epileptic fits, deafness and learning difficulties.