Meningitis B vaccine added to NHS immunisation programme

The meningitis vaccine will now be given to babies in the UK, after the DH settled year-long price negotiations with the manufacturers.

Mr Hunt: ' We will be the first country in the world to have a nationwide MenB vaccination programme.' Pic: Pete Hill
Mr Hunt: ' We will be the first country in the world to have a nationwide MenB vaccination programme.' Pic: Pete Hill

The vaccine is likely to be part of the national childhood immunisation programme by September this year, according to the DH.

The Bexsero vaccine will be given to infants in three doses, at two, four and 12 months of age.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) also advised that there should be a catch-up programme for babies aged three and four months.

The RCGP has previously said that GPs would ‘play a major role in promoting the new immunisation programme to parents and in ensuring a successful rollout’.

Vaccine delays

The DH announced in March 2014 that the vaccine would be made available for babies, following recommendations from the JCVI.

Implementation was slowed by cost negotiation efforts with the drug manufacturer Novartis, but the vaccine was acquired by GSK earlier this month.

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt said: ‘I am very proud that we will be the first country in the world to have a nationwide MenB vaccination programme, helping to protect our children from a devastating disease.’

Professor Andrew Pollard, chairman of the JCVI, said: ‘Group B meningococcal disease has been a high priority for prevention for decades because it is a devastating, and potentially fatal, disease which strikes suddenly and unexpectedly, especially affecting young children.

’JCVI anticipates that introduction of the new meningitis B vaccine for babies will reduce the number of cases in early childhood, ease the burden of the disease for the NHS and defend the health of the nation’s children.’

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