After years in development and more years of campaigning, the revolutionary lifesaving vaccine for meningococcal group B (Men B) disease is being rolled out free to newborn babies across the UK as part of the NHS immunisation programme.
We’re delighted to see this day, although our hearts go out to all those for whom it arrives too late.
How fitting it is though that one of the first babies to receive the new vaccine will be Daisy, born on 29 May, seen here with her parents Dan and Kelly and grandmother Jane. Grandmother is Dr Jane Wells MBE, co-founder of the UK meningitis movement. Her son Dan twice contracted meningitis, aged 2 in 1984 and aged 13 in 1995.
Dr Wells co-founded the Parents Group Act in 1985 which became the Meningitis Trust, now Meningitis Now.
The perfect gift
“Meningitis has been prominent in our family. With our history we were very worried for Daisy. I’m so pleased she will benefit from the vaccine; it’s the perfect gift.”
Dr Jane Wells
From today babies will be offered the vaccine at two months old, followed by a dose at four months and a booster at 12 months.
There is also a limited catch-up programme for babies due their three and four-month vaccinations in September.
Steve Dayman, also a co-founder of the UK meningitis movement after losing his baby son Spencer to the disease in 1982, added:
“I’m absolutely elated that we now have this vaccine available – it will save lives straight away and for years to come.”
A note of caution
And charity chief executive Sue Davie paid tribute to our supporters’ selfless and tireless efforts in campaigning for the vaccine through our Beat it Now! campaign.
“We’re delighted to reach this milestone but let’s spare a thought for those for whom it comes too late – we’re here for you as long as you need us.”
“Whilst this is good news – this does not mean meningitis is beaten."
“Our message is ‘don’t become complacent about meningitis’ – there are not vaccines for all types."
“Our advice remains learn the symptoms, stay vigilant and seek immediate medical help if meningitis is suspected.”
Sue Davie, CEO
Our Beat it Now! campaign will continue to see the Men B vaccine extended to other at risk groups.