It took many years of research to develop a MenB vaccine followed by years of campaigning for its implementation, but the end of the road is finally in our sights. In June 2015 the welcome news broke that babies would start to be immunised in September the same year.
In March 2015, following lengthy price negotiations, the government announced that all babies in the UK will soon be vaccinated against meningococcal B (MenB) disease as part of the national childhood immunisation programme
. The announcement came almost a year to the day after the vaccine had been recommended for routine use in babies aged 2, 4 and 12 months by UK government advisors, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).
Your support has been crucial in seeing the vaccine through to implementation. Thank you for enabling us to keep the issue high on the political agenda by signing petitions
calling for the introduction of the vaccine. Two petitions were delivered to Downing Street totalling more than 50,000 signatures to which Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt personally responded
As the first anniversary of the JCVI's recommendation loomed in March 2015, members and supporters joined our #WheresOurVaccine campaign, sending selfies to Mr Hunt, sending him hundreds of tweets, writing to their MPs and prospective parliamentary candidates, appearing in hundreds of national and regional newspapers throughout the country, as well as dozens of national outlets, to demand, #WheresOurVaccine?
Twice, in January 2014
and March 2015
, leading clinicians supported letters to Mr Hunt . The letters were organised by MRF, led by Dr Simon Nadel, and both were published in the Times and featured in national news items in broadcast and print media.
Even the JCVI recommendation was not a straightforward process and their initial analysis found the vaccine unlikely to be cost effective. When the JCVI invited comment on this we provided crucial evidence
to highlight the value of this vaccine and expressed our concerns that cost effectiveness analysis undervalues the impact of this disease
. Some of our members took part in a study about the family impact of meningitis and septicaemia and evidence from this study formed a key component of our response. In light of the new evidence the JCVI were able to make a positive recommendation.
In the last couple of year our genome library has been providing new evidence which supports increased value of the MenB vaccine to UK children and increases the urgency for its introduction. A particularly deadly strain of MenW
, identified by our genome library as ST-11, is on the rise and the MenB vaccine would protect against it.
This vaccine will save lives and spare countless families the trauma of seeing a loved one die or become seriously disabled because of MenB. The bitter experience of those who have been personally affected has been vital in our campaigning for this vaccine, demonstrating the compelling case for prevention. We pay tribute to them and pledge to continue supporting them.
The end of the road is in our sights but we are still some way from the end of our journey. The vaccination programme is only for babies and we remain concerned that toddlers and teenagers the next highest risk groups remain unprotected. Vaccinating teenagers in particular has the potential to protect the wider population because they are key to transmission and spread of this disease. We continue to campaign for wider use of the vaccine.