On Tuesday 22 March, in the second of two evidence sessions following a petition signed by over 820,000 people to extend the meningococcal group B (Men B) vaccination.
UK charities Meningitis Now and Meningitis Research Foundation will urge the joint parliamentary Petitions and Health committees to adopt a time-based action plan that will help the government further protect all our families from this devastating disease.
In their evidence to the committee, Sue Davie, Chief Executive of Meningitis Now, and Vinny Smith, Chief Executive of Meningitis Research Foundation, will call on committee members to shake off the ‘political mud’ that has prevented further protection programmes coming forward.
The action plan provides for the timely delivery of a series of reports and commitments that will enable real and meaningful decisions to be made about issues of fairness in the effectiveness framework the Joint Vaccination and Immunisation Committee (JCVI) uses to evaluate vaccines, the herd protection value of vaccinating adolescents in protecting all, and vaccinating children up to the age of five years.
Specifically, the charities will be asking:
Addressing the unfairness of the cost effectiveness framework
- April 2016: Publication of first draft of recommendations from the CEMIPP*1 working group
- June 2016: A commitment at ministerial level for funding research into how peace of mind health benefits can be included in the cost effectiveness framework. The petition demonstrates how much the public value vaccines that prevent severe disease. If there is no agreed mechanism for including peace of mind benefits of vaccination then research should be commissioned urgently to address this
- June 2016: Deadline for public consultation on the first draft of CEMIPP recommendations
- September 2016: Recommendations and amendments to draft report post consultation and proposed implementation plan to be presented to the Health and Petitions Committees
Completing the adolescent intervention study
- April 2016: A Department of Health commitment at ministerial level for funding a teenage intervention study to be provided in writing to the Health and Petition Committees
- May 2016: Plan outlining timescales for completion of the following to be presented to Health and Petitions Committees:
- Preparatory study
- Commissioning and design of the intervention study
- Intervention study and subsequent reporting
- Consideration of findings by JCVI and subsequent recommendations
- September 2016: Quarterly progress reports to be provided to Health and Petitions Committees until completion
Protecting the most vulnerable with an effective vaccine – under 5s one off catch up programme
- Spring 2016: Report to be produced for Health and Petitions Committees on Men B vaccine supply and any likely issues for an under 5 catch up programme
- Autumn 2016: First year effectiveness data for the vaccination of babies to be made public
- October 2016: Catch up campaign for under 5s to be reconsidered by the JCVI in the light of a fairer cost effectiveness framework and emerging data on vaccine effectiveness , and Health and Petitions Committees to be updated on recommendations
When considering the effectiveness model adopted by the JCVI, the charities have consistently expressed concern about the rules for assessing cost-effectiveness in relation to vaccines. Following a JCVI recommendation, there has been a working group, Cost Effectiveness Methodology for Immunisation Programmes and Procurement (CEMIPP), looking at this but we still await a report of their findings.
As part of the government’s review process in March 2014, the JCVI recommended that an adolescent carriage study be undertaken to assess the cost-effectiveness and potential of herd-protection. Herd protection comes about by vaccinating the main carriers of the disease, teenagers in this instance, so that they cannot spread the bacteria amongst the wider population. Two years later, this important study has not been completed and only undisclosed preparatory plans have been made.
decision to vaccinate all babies born after 1 May 2015 in the fight against meningitis, but stress that they have always called for the vaccine to be given to all at-risk groups with a priority being placed on under 5s who account for some 57%*2 of all Men B cases in the UK. They also advocate that any decision to extend that vaccine to this group be predicated on full year effectiveness data.
Sue Davie, Chief Executive at Meningitis Now, said:
"The sad death of Faye Burdett and the overwhelming response across the UK, has given the government a unique opportunity to reappraise some of the outstanding issues around the Men B immunisation programme. I would recommend that they grab this opportunity and work with both Meningitis Now and the Meningitis Research Foundation, to formulate a programme and plan that delivers on the demands of the hundreds of thousands of people who signed the petition and that is simply to protect our children.”
Vinny Smith, Chief Executive at Meningitis Research Foundation, said:
“Too many children are still being killed and seriously disabled by what is a vaccine preventable disease. The parliamentary debate, bought about by the overwhelming response to the petition to extend MenB vaccination, gives us a unique opportunity to help end the dreadful suffering caused to families in the UK by Men B. Along with Meningitis Now, Meningitis Research Foundation urges the government to make better protection from Men B a reality as soon as possible.”