We’ve written to Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt and the Department of Health and are also asking GPs to support the wider rollout and help provide peace of mind for families affected by the disease.
We’ll also be pushing MPs to support this action when we meet with them at our Autumn Parliamentary Reception on 18 November.
Concerns over availability
Many of you have contacted us to express your concerns that the vaccine is only available free to newborn babies and is not available for brothers and sisters where there is a family history of the disease.
The message reaching us is that the NHS does not see you as a special case and, if you are concerned, you should arrange to vaccinate your other children privately.
But, as we know, the cost of providing the vaccine privately can be prohibitive for many – looking after your children should not be down to your ability to pay.
We think families who have experienced meningitis deserve to be treated as a special case and offered the vaccine free for their other children through the NHS.
“We see every day the devastating impact of meningitis on individuals and families and we know the fear it leaves behind – a fear of meningitis striking again in the family."
“A family who has faced this disease once deserves the right to protect their child as much as is medically possible from it striking again."
“It is not too late to give them some peace of mind for their other children.”
Sue Davie, Chief Executive
Recent research we’ve carried out highlights the significant impact the disease has on parents’ and carers’ physical, emotional and financial wellbeing.
Some parents described being put in a position where they felt unable to protect their children from a disease that has already caused so much havoc, leading to anxiety and illness.
The call has been welcomed by our supporter Julie Tuckley, whose young son Tommy was the face of the original Beat it Now! campaign.
Tommy was struck down with meningitis at the age of 5 months in March 2012. The disease was so ferocious and widespread that he was given only a 5 per cent chance of survival. Tommy defied the odds, but was left with multiple amputations and will require lifelong support.
Julie, from Walsall, a staunch supporter of the Beat it Now! campaign, gave birth to Jorgie, a sister for Tommy, earlier this year. Whilst pleased that the vaccine is now available for newborn babies, she is worried for the future of her daughter, who falls outside the automatic age range to receive it.
“My beautiful little Tommy is amazing. Doctors say it’s a miracle that he survived. We’re so proud of our beautiful boy. But what happened to Tommy still impacts on us now and will for life."
“I worry every day for Jorgie that the same thing might happen to her. Families like ours shouldn’t live with this cloud on the horizon and I urge the Government to show some compassion and make families with a history of meningitis a special case.”
Help us make families with a history of meningitis a special case by writing to your MP and asking them to support the campaign.
We have generated template letters, you can download them below (depending on which area you are in)