Broken hearts, broken promise

Campaigning for greater access to the MenB vaccine in the UK so that more lives are saved.
Start Date
14 Feb 2017
Category
Advocacy

For decades, MenB has been the most common cause of bacterial meningitis in the UK and Ireland. Today, meningococcal meningitis and septicaemia remain the leading infectious cause of death for children under five in the UK.

Thanks to our continued efforts, babies are now being offered the MenB (meningococcal group B) vaccine as part of the routine immunisation schedule.

However, this only prevents around 25% of cases. Other age groups need protection too.

We are achieving this by:

Fighting for Fairness

  • Changing the unfair rules that the government uses to make vaccine decisions so that more people can access vaccines in the future.

Protection for All

  • Helping to enable a study to determine if vaccinating adolescents – the main carriers of the meningitis bug – could protect everyone by stopping the spread.

Fighting for Fairness- addressing the unfairness of the vaccine rules

We have long been calling for a reform of the rules used to decide the lifetime value of vaccines. The current rules are unfair and put vaccines that prevent rare but severe illness in children at a disadvantage. This means that children under age 5 - who we believe should have been vaccinated because they are at a higher risk of contracting disease than older age groups - won’t get protection.

Currently only babies are vaccinated because they are the most at risk. The government says it is too expensive to give the MenB vaccine to older children and the costs outweigh the benefits.

If the rules had been fair, we estimate that 400 cases of MenB in the under 5s would have been avoided. We don’t want this to happen again.

The government promised to look into these unfair rules which dictate the value of vaccines. They said they would publish a report in 2016. However, the government has now delayed the report for another year.

Next steps

We want to report to be published so that fairer decisions on vaccines can be made as quickly as possible. That’s why we are fighting for fairness with our ‘broken hearts broken promise’ campaign.


 

Protection for all

In addition to greater vaccine access, we believe that vaccinating adolescents could protect everyone by stopping the bacteria that cause meningitis being carried and spread (known as herd protection).

  • Last year we funded a study to help to see if this could be achieved.
  • Data from our study is being used to enable a large national study in the UK
  •  The government has agreed to fund £1.3million towards the study
  •  A much large study is also being conducted in Australia http://www.bpartofit.com.au/ 

Next steps

We have asked policymakers to ensure that both the UK and Australia study are designed to get the conclusive answers we need. We await the results of the studies to enable protection for everyone.

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Rob Dawson
Rob Dawson - Director of Communications, Advocacy and Support

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