#whatwouldyoudo – meningitis B to vaccinate or not to vaccinate? 

#whatwouldyoudo – meningitis B to vaccinate or not to vaccinate? 

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.

vaccination 2

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.

vaccination

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

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40 Comments

  1. April 15, 2016 / 6:04 pm

    We debated for several months and spoke to several health professionals in the process of making our decision. In the end we decided to pay for it. Ultimately it came down to the decision that if he ever caught it and I had turned down the opportunity to give it to him I would never forgive myself. I actually cried in the car on the way home with relief. We were told at the clinic he was the last bit one to get one before they ran out. Yes I do worry a little about long term risks but I hope we have made the right decision.

    • tammymum
      April 15, 2016 / 6:32 pm

      Yes that’s the crucial bit isn’t it, if they caught it I fear we’d forever say we could have avoided this! That’s what swung it for us in the end. Thank you for your comment lovey xx

  2. April 15, 2016 / 6:45 pm

    Really informative – I too get scared at the slightest rash you can’t help it. You can never get blaze about new symptoms – I was so shocked on the price and can see how that can frustrate those wanting to get privately x

  3. April 16, 2016 / 6:17 pm

    great article. Before being a mummy I was a Public Health Specialist for the Health Protection Agency in London with a specialism in Meningitis – I saw a lot of horrific cases at their worst and, like yours, meningitis has always been one of my biggest fears. My children are too old for the government scheme but I have always believed in the Public Heath policies to date and am a huge advocate of them. However, meningitis has particular age groups it is more high risk too and is also seasonal – October to March – so I am going to review the current state of the policy come September (things do change) and also speak with old colleagues of mine to make the best decision for my children come next winter. I hope my opinion helps in some way in which I am aware is a very controversial policy decision for some.

    • tammymum
      April 16, 2016 / 9:24 pm

      Ah thank you that’s a really insightful comment I really appreciate it. Knowledge is definitely power in cases like this. It would be interesting to see if there are any changes come September. We are currently on the wait list but it’s a long one so it may well be September before we hear anything. Thank you so much for sharing xx

      • April 17, 2016 / 11:26 am

        I think a lot will happen through public pressure with this one as such an emotive disease. will feedback come September – oo back from #KCACOL

      • tammymum
        April 17, 2016 / 9:20 pm

        I’ll look forward to hearing about it come September xx

  4. April 16, 2016 / 9:07 pm

    Really interesting post, I am grateful I don’t have to make the decision as TM is little enough that he qualified to have the vaccines. I am massively pro-vax as I know people living with immuno-suppressant diseases who really on ‘herd immunity’ (most people being vaccinated against deadly diseases like measles etc therefore it becoming so rare that it’s unlikely they will be faced with it) as they are unable to have vaccinations themselves. But equally they’ve obviously made the decision about the age groups most at risk and weighed that up. It’s a tricky one, nobody wants to feel they’ve put their child in danger!

    good luck, I hope you come to a satisfactory conclusion! Ellen X

  5. April 17, 2016 / 7:13 am

    When this all came to light my daughter was four, soon to be five and I would like to hope pray think that she is becoming less at risk as she gets older and so I haven’t considered paying privately for the jab. That being said my sister in law had meningitis when she was 15, it was viral, but it left her with Crohns disease and a friend of mine, who was perfectly fine one day, then came down with a cold the next in the middle of August and felt very weak, collapsed into a coma to be diagnosed with bacterial meningitis and die 9 days later…she was 28. We had all had the one that came into schools years and years ago, yet two people now close to me suffered from it…so I don’t know. I know I would let any future baby have the jab though, just like I’d let them have the MMR, I’m just not sure I’d personally fight to pay for it privately for my child. Same sort of thing when the cervical cancer jab came in for girls, I was a few months too old for that one and choose not to have it done – although I would happily campaign for smears to be brought down to a younger age!!! #kcacols

    • tammymum
      April 17, 2016 / 9:27 pm

      I’m so sorry to hear about the experiences those close to you have had. It’s a tough one isn’t it and at 4 and 5 I think I would take a similar approach to you. My little one isn’t even 2 yet so I have some to go. It’s a strange one isn’t it, I think because I had mine so close together the fact the daughter hasn’t had it and my son had really plays on my mind. If there was a bigger gap perhaps it wouldn’t but like you say you would happily let future babies have it. Thank you for your comment xx

  6. April 17, 2016 / 12:29 pm

    If I could afford to have the vaccine for my boys (both were born before the free vaccine was introduced) I definitely would. Be the reality is that I can’t, and I, like you, live in fear of temperatures paired with suspicious rashes. It doesn’t bear thinking about. Thank you for this post. #KCACOLS

  7. April 18, 2016 / 8:28 am

    There’s always the ‘what if’ factor. If you can’t get past that, then vaccinate. Thanks for sharing #KCACOLS

    • tammymum
      April 18, 2016 / 2:16 pm

      Your right there – I think that’s my answer! Thanks for you comment

  8. April 18, 2016 / 2:54 pm

    Both of my children have had it but not on the NHS as they were both born before it was part of the vaccination plan. I just figured, better safe than sorry!

    #bigpinklink

    • tammymum
      April 18, 2016 / 3:15 pm

      Yeah I don’t blame you, pretty good mantra to have when comes to stuff like this xx

  9. April 18, 2016 / 7:21 pm

    Meningitis scares me too, my baby just had her first lot of vaccinations couple of weeks ago and I feel lucky that she has been able to have the men B injection. xx

    #KCACOLS

  10. April 19, 2016 / 7:42 pm

    My youngest son had the vaccination routinely but my other three were not offered it and this is a concern for us. We have looked into paying privately but at the moment they are saying it isn’t available in our area, even if we are paying, and we can go on a waiting list! It also feels like a lot of money that we don’t have but then how can you put a price on your childrens health?

    • tammymum
      April 19, 2016 / 7:48 pm

      It’s the same everywhere, there are no vaccines left in the country until June time I believe. I know it’s a t of money and with three to pay for that really is steep. It is a tough one isn’t it xxx

  11. April 19, 2016 / 7:43 pm

    Sorry meant to say #passthesauce

  12. April 20, 2016 / 11:27 am

    We are very lucky that our little one fits into the criteria to get it anyway, and it so no question for us. However I’m not sure I would have paid privately for it. It isn’t 100% effective (no vaccine is) and I think awareness of the signs and symptoms can be more than enough to spot it before it’s fatal. Of course, that’s just my thought. We’re very aware of meningitis in my house as my wife had it when she was 18 months old and her mother died from it. It’s terrifying. #bloggerclubuk

  13. April 20, 2016 / 1:11 pm

    This is really interesting-as soon as my husband saw those images of that poor little girl on the internet, he was freaking out, and calling the Dr. My NCT friends also set up a whatsapp group all to panic over it. I agree it is a frightening thought, and we still don’t really know what to do. At the time, I just took all the facts as you’ve given them here-looked at the age of children who are usually affected, and the rates at which the virus is contracted. I think when stocks are up we will pay for it, but of course, not everybody will be in this position. I’m very pro vaccination, and will have anything that is offered. I also have faith that the NHS have weighed up the costs and the danger, and made the policy correctly according to that information. It’s still very tough to consider! I’m also really sorry to hear what happened to your cousin-that is really, really sad, and you have my sympathies. xx
    #bigpinklink

    • tammymum
      April 20, 2016 / 8:30 pm

      Thank you that’s very kind. Yes I think we too will vaccinate and I am also very pro vaccination. Since this post I have spoken to a medical professional who said the high demand for the vaccine wasn’t a result of increased infection rate so that has put my mind at rest for the interim. I think for us it’s not being able to get past the ‘what if’ that ultimately made our decision to vaccinate xxx

  14. April 20, 2016 / 2:39 pm

    I was really disappointed when I realised that my son wouldn’t be getting this and I have signed a waiting list to be notified when the vaccines come back in stock. I’m so sorry to read about your cousin – it’s a really horrible illness that can just develop really quickly out of nowhere, with seemingly minor symptoms, which is what really scares me – you have to be so quick to pick it up. We have had a meningitis scare, and although it turned out not to be serious, it was really scary at the time and I will be trying to get my son vaccinated. #bigpinklink

    • tammymum
      April 20, 2016 / 8:32 pm

      Oh gosh I’m sorry to hear that but glad to hear it wasn’t too serious. Yes I think we will be too I don’t think we can get past the ‘what if’ element. Thank you for your comment xx

  15. April 20, 2016 / 6:51 pm

    I’m considering paying for it for Snappy is I can. I’m vaccinating this child with everything I can get. Everything. No question. I wasn’t vaccinated as a kid, and spent a lot of time being ill, an entire year at one point and almost died with whooping cough as a baby, and developed asthma after a bout of it during the year of doom. #KCACOLS

    • tammymum
      April 20, 2016 / 8:37 pm

      Oh my that must have been horrible, I’m so sorry to hear that and don’t blame you for now bring pro vaccinations. Hope all is well now. Thank you for your comment xx

  16. April 20, 2016 / 8:37 pm

    Alyssa was born just in time to get it done. if she hadn’t id have been finding the money to get it done. Did my own immunisations post a few weeks ago. Its so tough. Friend of mine just forked out £400 to get child done! Criminal
    #bigpinklink

    • tammymum
      April 20, 2016 / 8:42 pm

      Fortunes isn’t it, thank goodness at least one of mine was born at the right time. Glad Alyssa was too, I suspect she only just made it as she’s a similar age to Toby. Nice to be on the right side of the cut off point ey. Thank you for your comment lovey xx

  17. agentspitback
    April 21, 2016 / 1:37 pm

    This is a great post because there you have offered so much food for thought. I would, without a doubt, vaccinate my children, unless there is a medical reason not to. I want my kids to be protected as much as possible. When you have experienced a tragedy, like you have in your family, all the more you know the devastating impact these diseases can have. Thanks for sharing with #PasstheSauce

    • tammymum
      April 22, 2016 / 6:46 pm

      Thank you for your comment, yes I think I am with you in the vaccination front, it’s all about not being able to get past that ‘what if’ factor xx

  18. April 21, 2016 / 8:54 pm

    This is such an interesting post. Both my boys do not qualify and being a bit older I didn’t really give it much thought. Having read your post though I would definitely want to vaccinate. Not doing so and knowing I could have prevented if something did happen I would never forgive myself.

    Thank you for linking up to #KCACOLS and I hope to see you back again on Sunday x

    • tammymum
      April 22, 2016 / 6:47 pm

      Yes I think that is the attitude we have taken and why we are going to vaccinate. Thanks for your comment x

  19. April 22, 2016 / 8:23 am

    It’s funny because I have heard people talking about the vaccine, but have never really considered getting the private option before. It is expensive – you’d be lying if you said you didn’t have to take that into account. I guess I have always trusted the extensive work of the vaccination board of the NHS, and taken their advice and whats on offer from them. Maybe I need to read up and discuss further with the hubby….?
    Thanks for linking up to #coolmumclub

    • tammymum
      April 22, 2016 / 6:50 pm

      Yes I agree it is expensive and that has played a part in our decision, or at least prolonged our final decision. The increase in vaccinations haven’t come from a rise in infection rate so I don’t think there is a mad panic to get it if I’m honest. Xx

  20. April 22, 2016 / 6:44 pm

    I do understand that the NHS have to draw a line somewhere. If I could afford it, I 100% would vaccinate both mine. My youngest missed out by 3 or 4 months too – so it is a bit frustrating. Vaccines are lifesavers. #BloggerClubUK

    • tammymum
      April 22, 2016 / 6:54 pm

      Thank you for your comment. Yes it’s a tough one isn’t in, especially when they only just miss out. Since this post I have spoken with a medical professional who said that the overwhelming response for the vaccine isn’t a result of increased infection rates so there isn’t a desperate need to have your little ones vaccinated. Xx

  21. April 23, 2016 / 9:46 pm

    It’s an interesting one this one. Though I understand why people are upset, I actually did not sign the petition. I have never been a fan of these public panic led pressures on the NHS, or knee jerk responses to specific cases that have been highly publicised & portrayed in a certain way by the media. The fact is that vaccination programmes are always rolled out to a specific group of people from a specific date. It’s the only practical way. Cost is a factor because the NHS does not have endless funds. It is usual for vaccination programmes to be administered to just babies and from a specified date, and it makes sense to do it that way. It should also be remembered that vaccination programmes will still benefit those who have not been eligible because they will reduce the number of cases of those illnesses as time goes on, and therefore everyone’s chances of coming into contact with them. Therefore, I do agree with the policy as the only practical way for them to do it, and I think it is right that the NHS has other cost priorities given how much it is struggling.

    That said, I do also, like you, fear meningitis. But I try to keep a sense of perspective. The frightening thing about meninigitis b is its devastating effect – the rates of death or serious damage are quite high. However, infection rates are not high. It is a terrifying illness for its risks, but it is quite a rare one.

    Nonetheless, I am a worrier, and I probably would have the vaccination privately if it was affordable. But I have two kids who missed the vaccination start & the costs are currently too high. I think it is right that people should pay privately if they want the vaccination outside of what it has been determined that the free programme should be. But I do think that it would be good if it cam down to a more reasonable cost, and would hope that this would be considered once there is no longer a shortage.

    It’s a scary illness, and we would all love to have our kids be protected against everything all the time. But I do think that people need to be reasonable, realistic and also appreciate how lucky we are that our children are protected against so many deadly illnesses. Many in this world don’t get that. #passthesauce

    • tammymum
      April 24, 2016 / 12:23 pm

      Thank you got your comment. It is a very coherent and logical stand point that is hard to argue with. Like you I don’t disagree with the NHS not funding the vaccine and do have faith in the decision they have made. At the same time it is expensive to pay privately. I am not adverse to paying for it but my gripe is certainly the price, we are fortunate that we would only have to pay for one child but if you have two or three to have to pay for it would certainly make it very expensive, if not unattainable. I think for the time being however the public rush to vaccinate was a result of a few public awareness campaigns and not an increase in infection rates, so that can at least give some peace of mind until either the vaccine becomes available again or, hopefully, the price comes down. Thank you again for your comment x

  22. April 24, 2016 / 8:58 pm

    I did sign the petition too :) Now I know people out there will disagree with me and others will agree. But heres what we have done. We had a scare a couple of months ago and had the paramedics out. Thankfully all okay. But that stuck with me. Monkey had his first injection a couple of weeks ago and we have the second booked for June. Its not cheap. Especially via the clinic we are using but they do have vaccines available. We just cut back somewhere else this year. I know we are lucky that we can do this. And I do think that the NHS should cover the jab, but for piece of mind we have decided to have the jabs. Thank you for joining us at #BloggerClubUK, message me if you want more details. xx

    • tammymum
      April 25, 2016 / 8:18 am

      I don’t think it matters what other people think about the healthcare choices you have made. We do what we feel is right and best for our children based on the information we have. We too will be paying for it is… As soon as I can find a clinic that has supplies, I may take you up on that and pop you a quick message when the babies stop climbing all over me! I am glad everything turned out OK for you when you had a scare. Thank you for your comment xx