Second time round, with no signs of the beast from the east, and we were off to a good start!
After a warm welcome from Chief Executive Vinny Smith, the first session began with Lucy Anning, a member of Meningitis Research Foundation giving a poignant insight in to her own experience with pneumococcal meningitis. A former intensive care nurse herself, Lucy explained how she first began to experience dreadful ear ache whilst on shift at hospital. Lucy described how quickly her condition deteriorated, and just hours later she was back in same hospital, in the same ward, but this time as a patient. Lucy’s insight into her experience with the disease was an inspiring start the day and we would like to extend our thanks to Lucy for sharing her story with us all.
Dr Jeremy Carr then updated us on the progress of ‘Be on the TEAM’ a nationwide study designed to evaluate the impact of MenB immunisation on meningococcal carriage. Jeremy started by taking us back to September 2015 which saw the routine introduction of Bexsero® for the under ones. This was shortly followed by a petition calling to extend the vaccine to all children. But to find the best way to protect the whole population, the vaccine’s impact on meningococcal carriage needs to be understood– hence Be on the TEAM. Tasked with recruiting 24,000 year 12 students, the study will investigate whether immunisation with Bexsero® or Trumenba® influences meningococcal carriage by comparing throat swabs taken pre vaccination to those collected a year later. With nearly 5,000 teenagers already recruited, the team are off to an excellent start.
Dr Vanessa Saliba gave a great overview of the current issues with variability in vaccine uptake, highlighting that despite high immunisation rates nationally, disparities do still exist. Using the infant rotavirus vaccination programme as an example, Vanessa explained that London has the lowest coverage of all regions, with deprivation and ethnicity contributing to inequalities in uptake. Interestingly even when London figures are adjusted for deprivation and ethnic mix, not all of the differences disappear - suggesting that something else is at play here. In terms of what works well, Vanessa described how school based approaches are the most equitable way of delivering adolescent programmes.