UK to bring in world’s first meningitis vaccination programme for babies

A potentially life-saving vaccine against meningitis B will soon be available to all babies in the UK after a long stand-off over the cost. Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said Britain would become the first country in the world with a nationwide meningitis B vaccination programme after the Government reached a deal with drug maker GlaxoSmithKline. The Bexsero MenB vaccine, which was recommended by health experts a year ago, will now be added to the national childhood immunisation scheme, with babies getting the first of three jabs at two months.

MenB can be severely disabling or fatal, especially in babies and young children. Losing a child is every parent’s worst nightmare so I am delighted that we have reached an agreement with GSK.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt

Discussions between the department and the drug company over the price of the vaccine began in August last year, following advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI). The Department of Health will now work with GSK to secure supplies of the vaccine and bring it into the national immunisation programme, likely to be from September this year. Leading meningitis charities have welcomed the deal, although they say they cannot understand why talks dragged on for so long. Sue Davie, chief executive of Meningitis Now, said: “To know that babies will be protected against MenB is fantastic and another great step forward in our fight against meningitis.”

Families for whom this comes too late, and for whom we will always be here to support, have campaigned tirelessly and selflessly with us to make sure no other families suffer as they have.

Sue Davie, chief executive of Meningitis Now