Meningitis Research Foundation welcomes Welsh meningitis vaccines decisions
11 July 2015
UK based international charity Meningitis Research Foundation (MRF) welcomes the launch of two new immunisation programmes in Wales which will save lives from meningococcal meningitis and septicaemia.
In September, vaccination for babies against meningococcal group B (MenB) will be introduced into the country’s routine immunisation programme for children and from August, a programme for teenagers aged 14 – 18 years old offering a one off vaccine against meningococcal groups ACWY (MenACWY) will begin. Additionally, MenACWY vaccine will be offered to 18 – 25 years olds who are starting university.
Meningococcal bacteria has for decades been the single largest cause of meningitis and septicaemia in the UK. Young children and adolescents are most at risk. It leads to death in 10% of all cases and to long-term after effects in a further 36%. Department of Health (DH) surveys have consistently shown that meningitis is the illness parents of young children in our country fear the most. Each year it costs the NHS millions of pounds in medical litigation, and the long-term costs to government of a severe case can exceed £3 million.
The MenACWY vaccination programme is in response to the continued increase in the number of cases of a virulent new strain of meningococcal W (MenW) meningitis and septicaemia, partly identified by MRF’s Meningococcal Genome Library.
MRF Chief Executive, Chris Head commented, “We are delighted that MenB is to be introduced as Meningitis Research Foundation has been working for many years on a MenB vaccine supporting vital research into its development and testing, and campaigning for its introduction. We are also happy that our Meningococcal Genome Library has played an important part in the decision to introduce a MenACWY vaccine for 17 and 18 year olds. Our research programme will now help with the implementation and evaluation of the MenB vaccination programme and our helpline will be available to answer questions about both the vaccination programmes.”
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