Bereaved family petition Stormont for new meningitis vaccine

Bereaved family petition Stormont for new meningitis vaccine

13 June 2013

Sean and Marie Devine from Strabane who lost their daughter Terri aged 16 travelled to Stormont on Tuesday to hand in their “Time for Terri” petition calling on the UK Government to introduce a newly licensed Meningitis B vaccine as soon as possible.

The petition was tabled and handed to The Speaker in the Plenary Session of the Northern Ireland Assembly by Jim Wells, DUP. Afterwards Sean and Marie supported by Diane McConnell and Kathryn McAuley both from Meningitis Research Foundation were given the opportunity to meet privately with The First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness. The family asked for the support of The First and Deputy First Ministers for their campaign. Mr Robinson and Mr McGuiness both pledged their full support to Sean and Marie.

The Minister for Health, Edwin Poots MLA also agreed to meet the family and Meningitis Research Foundation in private and he listened to their personal experience of meningitis and assured them that he supports the quest for an effective, safe and cost-effective vaccine for Meningitis B.

Marie said: “Meningitis Research Foundation encouraged us to use the “Time for Terri” campaign to make people more aware of this ruthless disease. For us, I will admit, it was at times challenging, tiring and even frustrating but the positive support we received pushed us on to succeed. 22,100 people signed the 'Time for Terri ‘petition and Meningitis Research Foundation were delighted at the end result in such a short period of time.”

The family are determined to put as much pressure as possible on the decision makers to have this vaccine introduced as part of the routine vaccination programme. They can’t get Terri back, but they can help save the live’s of other children.

Meningitis and septicaemia affect around 3,600 people in the UK and Ireland annually and meningococcal B disease is responsible for the majority of cases of disease in the UK and Ireland. These diseases can strike anyone, of any age, at any time, killing one in ten, and leaving a quarter of survivors with life altering effects as severe as deafness, brain damage and loss of limbs.

The newly licensed Meningitis B vaccine is called Bexsero® and is produced by Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics Limited. The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) is expected to make its recommendation on Bexsero on 12th June. Meningitis Research Foundation was among the specialist organisations submitting data to for consideration by the UK Government’s JCVI, including Meningitis Research Foundation’s report ‘Counting the Cost’ which estimated the lifelong costs of someone seriously disabled by Meningitis B is as much as £3million.

Diane McConnell, Manager of the Northern Ireland office said: “Over 22,000 people have signed “Time for Terri” calling on the introduction of the Meningitis B vaccine as soon as possible to prevent more deaths and children suffering serious after effects. The Devine family know better than anyone how vitally important it is our children are protected against all types of meningitis and septicaemia. We have also presented this petition to 10 Downing Street last week to try and ensure the weight of public opinion encourages the Government here and in Westminster to act and introduce Bexsero as soon as possible. At last we have an opportunity to dramatically reduce the devastation caused by Meningitis B. The Devine family and Meningitis Research Foundation are therefore urging the government to introduce the new Meningitis B vaccine as soon as possible. Any delay will mean unnecessary deaths and children growing up with disabilities and needlessly limited opportunities to reach their full potential. "

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Sam Williams
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