10 successful years of the meningitis C vaccine in the UK
23 November 2009
National charity, Meningitis Research Foundation welcomes the success of the MenC vaccine (protects against meningococcal C strain of meningitis) which was introduced into the Childhood Immunisation Schedule ten years ago this week.
The introduction of the vaccine has resulted in a 99% reduction in cases of MenC disease in the UK. MenC disease was particularly deadly and left many survivors with amputations, paralysis, deafness and other disabilities. Today death from Group C meningococcal disease is almost unknown.
Professor Ray Borrow who heads the Vaccine Evaluation Unit at the HPA's North West Regional Laboratory in Manchester and sits on MRF's Scientific Advisory Panel said: "The introduction of a vaccine against Group C meningococcal meningitis is one of the most effective health protection measure of the past decade.
"Before the introduction of the vaccine we used to see up to 1000 cases of this devastating disease in the UK every year and approximately 10% death rate. Now, thanks to parental confidence in the vaccine ensuring high uptake rates, we see a mere handful of cases. If anyone has any doubts about the effectiveness of vaccine programmes, they should look at the effectiveness of the MenC vaccine."
Christopher Head, Meningitis Research Foundation's Chief Executive commented: "In the ten years since the introduction of the MenC vaccine in 1999 we've seen a huge decrease in deaths from MenC in England and Wales. This is a big step in the fight to eradicate meningitis and septicaemia in the UK, but it's important to be aware that there is still no vaccine against the Group B meningococcal strain which causes about 50% of all cases of meningitis and septicaemia in the UK. It's vital to be aware of the symptoms as early awareness will save lives."
Harpinder Collacott 01454 281811 or 07711 057875
Notes to Editor:
Symptoms of meningitis:
- Meningitis Research Foundation is currently funding 24 research projects into the prevention, detection and treatment of meningitis and septicaemia. The Foundation has spent £15.6 million on research since its inception in 1989 on 128 research projects.
- Meningitis Research Foundation operates a Freefone 24 hour helpline - 080 8800 3344 - providing information on meningitis and septicaemia to the general public and health professionals.
Fever; vomiting; severe headache; rash (not present in all cases); stiff neck*; dislike of bright lights*; very sleepy/vacant/difficult to wake; confused/delirious; seizures (fits) may also be seen. (*Unusual in young children.)
Symptoms of septicaemia (blood poisoning form of the disease):
Fever; vomiting; limb/joint/muscle pain (sometimes stomach pain/diarrhoea); pale or mottled skin; cold hands and feet; shivering; breathing fast/breathless; rash (anywhere on the body); very sleepy/vacant/difficult to wake; confused/delirious.
Other symptoms in babies include:
tense or bulging fontanelle (soft spot); refusing to feed; being irritable when picked up with a high pitched or moaning cry; a stiff body with jerky movements or else floppy and lifeless.