Men B vaccine now available in Ireland privately
16 December 2013
MRF welcomes the news that the first stocks of MenB vaccine, Bexsero, have now arrived in Ireland for private sale but has pledged to carry on campaigning for the vaccine to be freely available.
The vaccine, which could save generations of children from death and disability, was licensed at the beginning of the year, but the charity says that until it is recommended for national implementation for all children, it will only be available privately to those who can afford it.
Meningococcal B (MenB) infection is the leading cause of bacterial meningitis and septicaemia in Ireland, and kills more children under 5 than any other infectious disease in the UK and Ireland.
Meningitis Research Foundation Manager Diane McConnell says: “We know of hundreds of families already affected by MenB who would love to have their children vaccinated, but simply cannot afford to. A fairer and more effective approach is to implement this vaccine through the childhood immunisation schedule so that it’s free for all our children. Ireland has the highest rate of meningococcal disease in Europe and MenB is a significant contributor to this appalling fact. The Department of Health should be deploying every available vaccine to counter it. We will continue campaigning for this until it’s introduced universally. ”
MRF Ambassador Sandra Kinsella from Cavan adds: “My son Mark contracted meningococcal septicaemia when he was six years old and we are so lucky that he is here with us today. After a very frightening stay in hospital, he made a remarkable recovery and is now a strapping teenager. I would hate to think of other families going through what we went through, or even worse losing a child to this devastating disease because they cannot afford to pay for vaccinations privately. It’s crazy that children in Ireland are still dying from a vaccine preventable illness. The Irish government should make the new vaccine available to all, not just those who can afford it as you cannot put a price on a child’s life.”
The National Immunisation Advisory Committee announced last week that it was continuing to consider whether it should recommend the meningococcal B vaccine be added to the Primary Immunisation schedule. The committee said that it would discuss the matter again at its next meeting in January with a decision expected within the next year
Professor Alf Nicholson, Consultant Paediatrician at the Children’s University Hospital, Temple Street adds “There has been a rise in meningococcal disease in 2013 – this is a very serious and potentially lethal infection that we still see in Ireland.” That is why Meningitis Research Foundation is actively campaigning for the vaccine to be made available to all as it will save lives and help to prevent death and disability. For more information see our MenB in Ireland page