The Joint Committee on Vaccine and Immunisation (JCVI) has rejected the call made by 823,346 concerned individuals who signed the Men B petition, by deciding not to extend the vaccine to under 2s.
The petition, backed by bereaved family of 2 year old Faye and many other parents affected by this deadly disease, called for all children to receive the vaccine for free through the NHS immunisation programme.
The JCVI who advise the government on vaccine and immunisation policy, have announced that extending the age of children who receive the vaccine through the NHS, will place too much of a strain on current stocks to be sustainable.
Since its introduction in September 2015, the Bexsero® vaccine, produced by GSK, has gone through shortages, making it unavailable through private clinics earlier this year.
Minutes published from the JCVI meeting this week say "that while the lifesaving Men B vaccine could prove cost effective for children aged between 13 and 24 months, there is insufficient supply of the vaccine to offer it to children in this age group without jeopardising stocks of the vaccine set aside for the existing NHS immunisation programme. For this reason they were unable to recommend extending implementation of the vaccine to all children under age 2".
Whilst the lifesaving vaccine remains available through the NHS for under 1s, children aged 13 to 24 months are only slightly less at risk than and a positive recommendation for extension of the vaccine to the under-twos could have saved lives during the more dangerous period for bacterial meningitis from autumn to winter.
Liz Brown CEO at Meningitis Now said: “We are hugely disappointed by today’s decision, but will continue to campaign passionately for all children under the age of 5 to receive this lifesaving vaccine.
“We stand for the many thousands of families who are unable to protect their children from this devastating disease because they cannot afford to buy the vaccine privately. We will continue to fight against a system that discriminates against the health of the nation’s children on an ability to pay basis.
“I would ask the new Prime Minister, Mrs May, to honour her words from Monday, when she said “We need a bold, new, positive vision for the future—a vision of a country that works not for a privileged few but for every one of us" and so to intervene on behalf of the 823,000 people who made their views on protecting the nation’s children very clear indeed.
“Meningitis Now has a legacy of campaigning for the introduction of lifesaving vaccines through the NHS and has played a key role in working with Governments behind the introduction of five meningitis vaccines in the past two decades.
“We are undeterred and will continue to fight for all at risk children under the age of 5, to receive this lifesaving vaccine.”
Find more about about our Beat it Now! campaign here.