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First meningitis B vaccine now available privately in Ireland

The Meningitis Research Foundation has called for the vaccine to be implemented nationally for all children.

Image: Vaccination via Shutterstock

THE MENINGITIS RESEARCH Foundation has welcomed the news that a vaccine for bacterial meningitis is now available privately – but called for it to be made available for all children.

Bexsero is the first broadly effective vaccine to help protect against bacterial Meningitis (MenB) and can be used by all age groups, including infants from two months of age.

MenB is the leading cause of bacterial meningitis in Ireland and the disease can result in death within 24 hours and life-long disabilities for survivors.

The drug was approved in the European Union in January 2013. In Ireland, MenB accounts for over 80 per cent of all meningococcal disease cases. About one in ten of those who contract the disease will die despite appropriate treatment.

The Meningitis Research Foundation (MRF) said that the vaccine will only be available privately to those who can afford it until it is recommended for national implementation for all children.

MRF manager Diane McConnell said: “We know of hundreds of families already affected by MenB who would love to have their children vaccinated, but simply cannot afford to. A fairer and more effective approach is to implement this vaccine through the childhood immunisation schedule so that it’s free for all our children.”

Professor Alf Nicholson, consultant paediatrician at Temple Street Children’s Hospital, said:

The availability of the first broad protection vaccine for MenB is a major milestone but as a paediatrician who has witnessed first-hand the devastation this disease can cause, universal vaccination through the National Immunisation Programme must be our ultimate goal.

According to MRF, the National Immunisation Advisory Committee announced last week that it was continuing to consider whether it should recommend the meningococcal B vaccine be added to the Primary Immunisation schedule.

It is expected to make a decision within the next year.

Parents wishing to know more about meningitis vaccinations are advised to speak to their GP.

Read: Meningitis: ‘We never thought it would happen to us – but it did’>

Read: Baby who survived meningitis gets chance to hear again after ‘ground-breaking’ op>

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