It wasn’t too long ago that the horrendous photos of poorly children and a public petition started to circulate to vaccinate all children against meningitis B. You may well be aware that all babies born after the 1st July 2015 qualify for the meningitis B vaccination on the NHS. My son was born on the 4th July, so by the skin of his teeth he has been vaccinated against this deadly disease. My daughter on the other hand was born August 2014 and as such she has not.
Now I don’t know about you you but meningitis scares the bejesus out of me. I’m generally quite calm when my babies run a temperature or are a little under the weather, but only after I have ran through symptoms and am satisfied they don’t fit. The minute I see an ominous rash I’m banging my neighbours door down to come and check it out – she’s a health visitor and yes that really did happen. I don’t believe I am the only one who deems it necessary to rule meningitis out first, if you have ever phoned 111 or the out of hours doctors they will always ask you the indicator questions and if one positive result comes up they will ship you off to the nearest medical facility (thankfully). It is, to my mind, exampling just how serious this disease is.
I have always been of the opinion that meningitis is commonly fatal – I think that’s part of why it scares me so much. Although I have come to learn that actually the survival rate can be quite high provided medical attention is sought immediately. In many cases that aren’t fatal there are life altering after effects such as loss of limbs, brain damage, learning difficulties, sight problems, deafness – I could go on. Sadly I have experienced the effects of meningitis, a cousin of mine felt unwell one night her main complaint being an ear ache, so much so that it took her to the out of hours clinic on a Friday night. Whilst waiting to be seen she fell asleep and sadly never woke up. She was diagnosed with meningitis and her life support machine was turned off on the Sunday night. She was 21.
With this in mind, I along with the other 800,000 people signed the Peition to parliament to make the meningitis B vaccination free and available to all children not just those born aft the first of July. This petition is to go before parliament on the 25th April 2016. I do not however hold out much hope.
After signing this petition I received an email from the government advising as to their reasoning behind only vaccinating newborn babies. This is available here. Essentially however this is the position – via independent research commissioned on behalf of the government it found that it is simply not cost effective to vaccinate older children i.e the 1-4 year olds. The actual number of those who contract men B is low, it stands to reason therefore the cost of treating those who do contract the disease is also low particularly when stacked up against the cost of vaccinating all children aged 1-4 year. The government’s response continued to advise that the NHS is not a finite resources and that a line must be drawn somewhere.
Do not get me wrong this is not an NHS bashing or an attack on policy. I am not naive enough to believe that cost does not feature (or is not in fact the driving force) when it comes to healthcare decisions. We all know the financial turmoil facing the NHS and I personally would like to see it stay. I do no expect legislation to be passed in favour of vaccination and I do truely understand that a line needs to be drawn somewhere, Im just miffed that it is seemingly at the expense of my daughter, in this case.
That is not the end of the road though should you want your older ones vaccinated. Almost all private clinics that offer vaccinations will vaccinate. But at £125 a dose, and your child will need 2 possibly 3 doses it is not cheap! They say you can’t put a price on a child’s life but it feels a little as though someone can. Not only this, when enquiring about the vaccination all clinics I spoke with are out of stock, until at least June, seemingly this is a national problem. This is because there has been an unexpected global demand for the vaccine and the manufacturer quite simply cannot keep up. One clinic I spoke to advised that there aren’t even any surplus vaccinations in the country. Further, even when the vaccine does become available your child’s name will added to a waiting list so it could be some time yet before the vaccination takes place. Demand has quite literally outstripped supply.
I wonder though, if the NHS has taken the stance it has, are we over reacting by rushing for this vaccination? Are the chances of your child contracting men B really that low? A friend of mine chose for her daughter not to have the MMR vaccine as she is of the opinion that as the world survived a long time without these vaccinations she questions their legitimacy now. Moreover it is a new vaccine that, although has been subject to strict testing and regulation, it is still new. It’s long term side effects cannot possibly be known.
So I would love to know, what are your thoughts on the vaccination? Have you or do you intend to pay privately for it? Or do you think it unnecessary? Does the high cost effect your decision. Whatever your position on this or any other vaccine then that is your choice and your opinion will be nothing but respected. I would love to hear your thoughts? #Whatwouldyoudo