24/07/2013

Beggs Slams Decision On Meningitis B Vaccine

The Ulster Unionist Party's Health Spokesperson, Roy Beggs, has said it is "hugely disappointing" that a vaccine which is widely believed could protect many from the killer meningitis B disease has not been recommended for wider adoption in the UK.

The East Antrim MLA said: "Meningitis is one of those illnesses which all parents fear. Babies, children under 5 and young people aged 14-24 are all especially at risk. Meningitis B is a particularly vicious disease which kills 1 in 10 people who contract it and leaves one in four survivors with life changing effects such as brain damage or a loss of limbs.

"Anything which can be done to offer protection should be found and investigated as a matter of absolute priority.
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"A vaccine exists, Bexsero, which tests have shown to provide 73% protection against meningitis B but it is currently not available in the UK.

"Following a decision by the European Commission earlier this year to approve Bexsero for use in individuals from 2 months of age and older the UK's advisory body, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), began evaluating the drug for potential adoption into our national immunisation program.

"Unfortunately the JCVI have now reported that the meningitis B vaccine should not be introduced. Whilst the decision is regrettable, I do believe that some hope at least can be taken from the fact that it was rejected on economic grounds rather than medical."

(CD/JP)

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