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Beat it Now!

September 2015 saw a historic moment in the fight against meningitis in the UK when, after years of fighting with our Beat it Now! campaign, a vaccine for MenB was introduced into the Childhood Immunisation Programme.

Beat it Now meningitis vaccine campaign - Action day

How it began

Our Beat it Now! campaign began in January 2013 after the vaccine, Bexsero, was licensed for use in Europe. Our campaign aim is simple, to get the UK Government to introduce the vaccine free on the NHS, as part of the immunisation programme.

After more than a year of campaigning, on 21 March 2014 the Government’s vaccine committee, the JCVI, recommended that the vaccine be introduced in the UK.

On 1 September 2015 the UK became the first country in the world to offer its newborn babies the new vaccine Bexsero via a national health service.

Although we are delighted to see this milestone advancement, for many this comes too late and does not mean meningitis is beaten.

There is still so much more to do as we continue our campaign to see the MenB vaccine extended to other at risk groups and to all children within a family where there has been a case of meningitis.

Campaign timeline

  • 22 January 2013 - new vaccine granted a licence from the European Commission
  • 12 June 2013 - JCVI meeting considers Bexsero vaccine and evidence submitted
  • 4 July 2013 - The JCVI announces that following the meeting, current evidence is insufficient to support a recommendation for the introduction of an immunisation programme. Invites us to respond
  • 6 September 2013 - We responded to JCVI interim decision.
  • 2 October 2013 - JCVI considers responses at a meeting
  • 23 October 2013 - we delivered the first 20,000 signatures to Downing Street, demanding the introduction of the vaccine
  • 25 October 2013 - JCVI issued an interim statement stating that they need further information.
  • 13 November 2013 - minutes of the October 2nd meeting of JCVI published
  • 3 December 2013 - Bexsero manufacturers Novartis, make supplies available for private use. We will continue to campaign for the vaccine to be freely available to all babies through the Childhood Immunisation Programme
  • 14 January 2014 - over 100 doctors, nurses and scientists have written to health secretary Jeremy Hunt, urging him to introduce a vaccine for MenB and make the right decision for children in the UK
  • 22 January 2014 - marks a year since the UK’s first lifesaving vaccine for the most common form of bacterial meningitis in the UK was licensed for use in the EU. We estimate that within that year around 600 MenB cases could have been avoided. Furthermore, our figures indicate that at least 200 people have died or suffered life-changing after-effects including limb loss, brain damage and epilepsy
  • 11 February 2014 - JCVI meets again to consider the vaccine
  • 25 February 2014 - we deliver more than 36,000 petition signatures to the Department of Health, and meet with the MPs supporting our campaign
  • 21 March 2014 - minutes of the JCVI meeting on 11 February are published with a positive recommendation and reflected how our campaign and response on 6 September 2013 influenced their decision. Department of Health announces it will introduce the vaccine into the childhood immunisation programme, subject to agreement on cost
  • 24 June 2014 - Meningitis Now holds a Westminster briefing to call for more information on the vaccine introduction, almost 100 days after the positive news was announced
  • 24 July 2014 - telephone meeting with Department of Health to say that the business case is progressing and there would be more news soon
  • 1 August 2014 - the business case for the vaccine is approved and negotiations begin
  • 22 October 2014 - 1,000 cases of MenB since the vaccine was licensed and still no vaccine
  • 22 October 2014 - Beat it Now! wins 'Campaigning Team of the Year' at Charity Times Awards
  • 4 November 2014 - MPs join us at the House of Commons to hear our renewed calls for the early implementation of the MeningitisB vaccine. Coinciding with the event, we run a social media campaign targeting Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, reaching nearly two million people online
  • 5 November 2014 - following the House of Commons event, Cotswold's MP Geoffrey Clifton-Brown, follows up on our behalf by asking David Cameron for an update on the vaccine negotiations, at Prime Minister's Questions.
  • 19 November 2014 - our chief executive Sue Davie telephones into Nick Clegg’s LBC radio show and asks why the vaccine is taking so long to implement, putting lives at risk
  • 22 January 2015 – Two years since the vaccine was first licensed. Meningitis Now launch a social media and campaign push to reach out to MPs
  • 13 March 2015 – Eleven of our Young Ambassadors take our Beat it Now! campaign to the heart of government, visiting Downing Street and presenting a petition to the Secretary of State for Health
  • 29 March 2015 - successful negotiations announced. The vaccine is planned to be introduced in September
  • 8 April 2015 – the Welsh Government announces £7.7 million funding to ensure babies across the country can be vaccinated against MenB
  • 1 September 2015 - the UK becomes the first country in the world to offer its newborn babies the new vaccine Bexsero via a national health service
  • 2 November 2015 - Meningitis Now wrote to Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt and the Department of Health to extend the vaccine to all children within a family where there has been a case of meningitis. We also asked GPs to support the wider rollout. Read our letter here.
  • 14 February 2016 – the sad death of little Faye Burdett triggers an emotional response to a petition calling for the use of MenB vaccine to be extended. The petition is eventually signed by 823,346 people – at that time the largest Parliamentary petition and triggering a debate in the House of Commons
  • 19 February 2016 – an upsurge in demand for the vaccine following the publicity around the petition leads to a shortage for private clinics
  • 1 March 2016 – Government responds to the MenB vaccine petition. We restate our position as the voice for people affected by this devastating disease
  • 15 March 2016 – the first evidence session (for families affected) held by the Parliamentary Petitions Committee and Health Committee
  • 22 March 2016 – the second evidence session (for experts/professional organisations) held. We attend both sessions, launching a 10-point action plan at the second
  • 25 April 2016 – MenB petition debated in Parliament. We had already called on supporters to contact their MP to speak positively in the debate
  • 26 April 2016 – We vow to keep fighting following the debate and the Health Minister’s decision to ignore the wishes of the 823,346 people who signed the petition
  • 14 June 2016 – Government health advisers reject calls for children up to age 2 to be given the MenB vaccine based on the cost and lack of supply
  • 1 September 2016 – a year after the vaccine is introduced millions of young children remain at risk after JCVI decision not to vaccinate children up to the age of 2 due to vaccine shortage
  • 5 September 2016 – Public Health England figures show MenB vaccine has halved cases in vaccine-eligible children within 10 months of the programme starting
  • 14 February 2017 – Jenny and Neil Burdett express their disappointment at the lack of progress on the first anniversary of their daughter Faye’s death, which sparked such an emotional response to the vaccine petition