MenB vaccination proven to save lives

23rd January 2020

We’ve welcomed research from Public Health England (PHE) that shows the MenB vaccination programme has reduced cases of meningitis and septicaemia in young children by almost two-thirds

Meningitis Now welcome news that MenB cases in infants is at record low thanks to vaccines

PHE’s study shows that by the third year of the programme in 2018, cases of MenB disease were 62 per cent lower in children who were eligible for at least two doses of the vaccine. Between 2015 and 2018, an estimated 277 out of an expected 446 cases were prevented because of the programme.

Having played an instrumental role in calling for the MenB vaccine, Bexsero, to be included in the infant immunisation schedule in 2015, we’re delighted that so many cases of MenB disease among young children have been prevented. 

Ensure children vaccinated

We’re now calling on parents to use this new and indisputable science-based evidence to ensure that their children are fully vaccinated, not only against meningitis but against other childhood diseases such as MMR. 

Our chief executive, Dr Tom Nutt, said, “MenB cases in infants under the age of 1 in 2018 were 44*, the lowest recorded case numbers in over 20 years** and probably since records began in the early 1900s***.  This significant drop provides compelling evidence that vaccines save lives.” 

The success of the vaccination programme has also been welcomed by charity supporters Georgie and Bryan Hall, whose son Ollie, 6, died from the disease in October 2017.

“Ollie, like many children, was too old to get the MenB vaccination from the NHS when it was first introduced”, Georgie said, “and we were unaware that it was also available privately."

Raise awareness of this lifesaving vaccination

“It’s so important to raise awareness of this lifesaving vaccination and encourage uptake to prevent as many families as possible from the heartbreak this devastating disease leaves in its wake."

“Please make sure your children are vaccinated – this research shows it saves lives and prevents so much suffering.”

Whilst the PHE research talks to the success of the MenB vaccine for those receiving at least two of the three MenB vaccinations on offer to infants, it doesn’t comment on a recent PHE report that shows vaccine uptake is declining in the UK. Neither does it highlight the 5 per cent drop in infants getting the important MenB booster vaccine at 12 months – which is putting children at increased risk.

Dr Nutt added, “I would urge parents to take action to ensure that their children receive all three of the MenB vaccinations being offered.

Evidence, not propaganda

“If you have concerns about vaccine safety, talk with your GP and make informed decisions based on the evidence that this new report provides and not on social media based propaganda and hearsay.”

The UK became the first country to offer a new vaccine (Bexsero®) against MenB to babies in September 2015.

We were instrumental in calling for the vaccine to be introduced through our Beat it Now! campaign, which began in January 2013 after the vaccine was licensed for use in Europe.  

Infants are offered the MenB vaccine as part of the routine immunisation programme at 8 and 16 weeks of age, followed by a booster around their first birthday. 

Well-accepted by parents

Figures from PHE show that MenB vaccinations are well-accepted by parents, with uptake remaining consistently high. During the first three months of 2018 around 95 per cent of infants completed their primary immunisations by their first birthday and around 90 per cent had received all three doses by two years of age. 

So far, almost five million doses of the MenB vaccine have been safely given to children in the UK.  

Dr Shamez Ladhani, Consultant Epidemiologist at Public Health England, said, “England has one of the most comprehensive immunisation programmes in the world. The implementation of the MenB vaccine in 2015 is a great success, it is already saving lives and means fewer parents and young children will experience this devastating illness."

“It is vital that children receive all available vaccines on time to provide the best protection at the age when they are at highest risk. Public Health England is working closely with NHS England to make it as easy as possible for parents to access vaccines so that they can offer their children the best possible start in life.”

The research was published in the New England Journal of Medicine, one of the world’s top medical journals. Read the full article here.

*Public Health England Invasive meningococcal disease in England – epidemiological year 2018/18
**Public Health England  - Invasive meningococcal disease – laboratory confirmed cases of IMD England 207/2018 data tables
***Notifiable Infectious Disease (NOIDS) data 1912 - 2018

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