Meningitis Research Foundation disappointed by government response to MenB petition

Meningitis Research Foundation disappointed by government response to MenB petition

02 March 2016

National charity Meningitis Research Foundation (MRF) is disappointed by yesterday’s government response to the petition supported by over 800,000 people to widen access to the MenB vaccine for children, reiterating cost effectiveness as a reason not to expand the programme.

Although we understand that the NHS budget is finite, we argue that the current cost effectiveness rules undervalue the prevention of severe illness in childhood.

There is evidence that the public prefer prevention over cure, and would rather prevent death or severe disability in a few than mild illness among many people. But the rules do not reflect these preferences. Meningitis is every parent’s nightmare. And the government’s cost effectiveness calculations simply do not take this level of public concern into account. They must, or the MenB vaccine and future childhood vaccines for less common, severe illnesses will always face an uphill struggle.

In addition to arguing for the cost effectiveness rules to be made fairer, we have strongly argued for government to back a study to show whether immunising teenagers could protect all age groups, as has been the case for other meningitis vaccines. It is disappointing that there is no commitment from government to fund such a study, even though this was recommended by the JCVI back in March 2014.

Vinny Smith, Chief Executive of MRF says “In the past two weeks there has been an unprecedented surge in public awareness about vaccinations against meningitis and private vaccine stocks have run out. The demand for this vaccine is clear. A government working group have been reviewing the rules for assessing cost effectiveness of vaccines. We urge that they report their findings soon so that wider use of the vaccine can be assessed under a new fairer system. We also urge government to commit to research which will tell us whether vaccinating teenagers could be the key to protecting everyone. This is an exceptional disease, with exceptional fear associated with it. For every parent who worries this could touch their family, 400 cases of meningitis each year is simply 400 too many.”

ENDS

Media contacts:
For further information please contact Becky Pierce-Jones, PR Manager on 0333 4056251 or media mobile: 07875 498047 or email beckypj@meningitis.org. Alternatively contact Adrian Robson, Head of Comms on 0333 4056249 or email: adrianr@meningitis.org

Notes to Editors:
  • Meningitis and septicaemia are easily mistaken for milder illnesses, but unlike a dose of flu can kill within hours and may cause serious, life-long disabilities. As many as one in ten of those affected will die and a third of survivors will be left with after-effects, some as serious as brain damage, amputations, blindness and hearing loss. 
  • There are currently 16 projects in MRF’s active research programme in addition to the MRF Meningococcus Genome Library, an ongoing research resource that was started with MRF funds Since the charity was founded in 1989, we have awarded 147 research grants. The total value of our investment in vital scientific research is over £18.6 million. Our research is used by professional organisations to inform everyone about the symptoms, prevention and treatment of meningitis and septicaemia. Many of its guidelines especially for new parents and health professionals are officially endorsed by the medical community. 
  • The MRF Meningococcus Genome Library is a world first which provides the complete genetic blueprint of every meningococcus that was isolated as a cause of meningitis or septicaemia in England, Wales and Northern Ireland between July 2010 and June 2013. Meningococcal genomes from Scotland between 2009 and 2013 have also been added. The Library is free of charge and open to all researchers, anywhere in the word and is invaluable for evaluating and implementing new vaccines - which will ultimately save millions of lives across the globe. See more 
  • MRF also supports those already affected with a telephone helpline, home visits and members’ days. Our Freefone helpline – 080 8800 3344 – provides information to the general public and those affected by the disease. We provide symptoms information, research and case studies at www.meningitis.org 

Sam Williams
Media Relations Manager

Hi, I’m Sam and I’m MRF's PR Manager.

If you want to know more about this story call me on 0333 405 626251, out of office hours on 07875 498047 or email me

samanthaw@meningitis.org