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Meningitis B vaccine delay

Posted Jul 24 2013 10:16am

Menigitis B can kill in four hours, hence frustration in delay of new vaccine


The Meningitis Trust/Meningitis UK has today expressed its frustration that a lifesaving vaccine for Meningitis B (Men B) is not yet going to be made available.

In a statement rthe Joint Committee on Vaccination (JCVI) says that the current evidence is insufficient to support a recommendation for the introduction of an immunisation programme. It calls for a population based evaluation of the vaccine, adding that the infrastructure and expertise available in the UK would make this country the ideal setting for such an evaluation.

However, Sue Davie, Chief Executive of the Meningitis Trust/Meningitis UK, said: “This is extremely disappointing news after all our supporters and our hard work over decades to introduce a vaccine."

JCVI has invited the charity to respond to its interim statement. It will consider this response and the advice of its meningococcal sub-committee at a meeting on 2 October, before finalising its advice and publishing its position statement.

“But we’re pleased to have the opportunity to respond and press our case” Sue added. “We understand the committee’s concerns about impact and cost, but we believe this vaccine is safe and we know it will save lives.”

Meningitis B (Men B) is the most common form of meningitisInflammation of the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord, due to infection in the UK and kills more children under 5 than any other infectionInvasion by organisms that may be harmful, for example bacteria or parasites..

The UK has one of the highest Meningitis B incidenceThe number of new episodes of a condition arising in a certain group of people over a specified period of time. rates in the world, affecting an average of 1,870 people each year. One in ten people affected will die and one in three will be left with life-changing after-effects such as brain damage or limb loss. There are a large variety of Meningitis B strains in the UK – more than in many other countries – which makes producing a broad-range vaccine extremely difficult.

Reverse Vaccinology

This is the first Meningitis B vaccine to be licensed for use in the UK. Studies show it should protect against 73 per cent of Meningitis B strains in the UK. It was created using a revolutionary new process called ‘reverse vaccinology’.

Sadly, there are still several other deadly forms of meningitis such as Group B Streptococcal, which do not have vaccines. Meningitis Trust/Meningitis UK, who merged in April, have pledged to carry on campaigning until everyone is protected against all forms of the disease as well as ensuring all those affected get the support they need.

The full JCVI position statement can be downloaded from the website at


Meningitis Fact Box                       


  • Meningitis is inflammationThe body’s response to injury. of the membranes that surround and protect the brain and spinal cord.
  • The disease can kill in four hours.
  • Classic symptoms include a headache, stiff neck and a dislike of bright light.
  • Symptoms of septicaemiaA serious condition in which there is rapid mulitiplication of bacteria and in which bacterial toxins are present in the blood. (bloodA fluid that transports oxygen and other substances through the body, made up of blood cells suspended in a liquid. poisoning) include leg pain, cold hands and feet, and a rash.
  • Around 3,400* people contract bacterial meningitis and septicaemia in the UK each year. Up to 500,000 people in the UK have had meningitis.
  • 1 in 10 people die and 1 in 3 are left with permanent disabilities such as limb loss, blindness, deafness or brain damage.
  • It can affect anyone, of any age, but babies, children under 5, young people aged 14-24 and the elderly are most at risk.
  • Every week,six families face the traumatic loss of a loved one to meningitis.
  • In the past 20 years, vaccines have been developed to protect against Hib, Meningitis C and Pneumococcal Meningitis but people still aren’t fully protected against all forms. 
  • It is important to trust your instincts. If you suspect something is wrong, seek medical help immediately.


For further information visit ,


*Figures from Health Protection Agency, Health Protection Scotland, Public Health Agency (Northern Ireland) and Hospital Episode Statistics. Represents average number of cases over past 10 years.


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