The project is a result of negotiations between the government and drug company GlaxoSmithKline. Beginning with September of this year, the vaccine will be offered through the NHS (National Health Service).
According to Professor Richard Moxon, a pediatrician at the University of Oxford, this is an important milestone “in the battle against bacterial meningitis”. Adding the meningitis B vaccine to the pediatric immunization scheme means that “all the major forms of this dreadful disease are preventable”.
The pro-meningitis B vaccine movement was launched in Straud by Steve Dayman who lost his baby son to this terrible disease in 1982. After finding out that the vaccine project had been approved, he was bursting with joy:
“I’ve waited 33 years since losing my baby to this strain to hear this phenomenal, watershed news.”
He added that this campaign will spare many lives and prevent many tragedies.
This project is a result of the continuous involvement of campaigners and charities such as Meningitis Now. Negotiations were rather slow due to difficulties in reaching a cost agreement. Charity organizations tried to hurry the process by saying that the longer the negotiations the higher the number of children whose lives are at risk.
Meningitis Now approximated that one child will lose the battle against meningitis B each month until the vaccine’s implementation.
Fortunately, an agreement was reached and the immunization drug will be included in the British childhood immunization scheme. The first dose will be administered when the child is two months old. Two other doses will be given when the child is 4 then 12 months old.
Meningitis is an infection caused by the Meningococcal B bacteria, a strain belonging to the Neisseria meningitides class. The bacteria causes acute inflammation of the meningeal layer that covers the brain, a very dangerous phenomenon as it can kill the patient in a matter of hours or days. Other effects include “blood poisoning, multiple organ failure and amputation.”
Approximately 3,200 people are diagnosed with bacterial meningitis each year which is half as many compared to 25 years ago when there weren’t any vaccines for this disease. Most meningeal infections are caused by the B strain.
Image Source: The Telegraph