Government finally rejects major vaccine report recommendations

11 Jun 2019
Government finally rejects major vaccine report recommendations

After almost five years of deliberations, the UK government today [11 June 2019] rejected all three headline recommendations from a major vaccine report that the government’s vaccine advisory group (JCVI) originally requested to best assess how to ensure fairer access to vaccines that prevent uncommon, severe diseases in childhood, such as bacterial meningitis.

Meningitis Research Foundation considers the rules that the JCVI have to use to decide whether to fund vaccines to be unfair, because they undervalue the benefits of preventing diseases like meningitis.

The JCVI expressed their concerns about this too, and as a result, a government working group called the Cost Effectiveness Methodology for Immunisation Programmes and Procurement (CEMIPP) was set up in 2014 to consider whether the method for making decisions about which vaccines to fund should change.

The group’s report was published in June 2018 and effectively had three main recommendations it argued had to be taken as a package: the government should pay less than it currently pays for the health benefits of vaccination; future health benefits from vaccination should be better accounted for in decision making; and the benefits of vaccines should not be judged over a lifetime, but instead have an artificial cap on how long they can be measured.

In a public consultation, feedback from patient groups including Meningitis Research Foundation, academics and experts was overwhelmingly against the proposals as a package because in combination they would have made introduction of vaccines even more difficult and undervalued prevention compared to treatments. In combination, these recommendations would be purely cost saving measures.

MRF's response
MRF's response
Our submission to the consultation on the report

Meningitis kills and leaves some survivors with lifelong after effects. Sadly, the recommendation to better account for the long term benefits of vaccines was also rejected despite this being the only favourable main recommendation in the final report.

Commenting on the news, Vinny Smith, Chief Executive of Meningitis Research Foundation said:
“With our incredible supporters, and 18 partners who we co-ordinated to respond to a consultation on the report last June, we have worked tirelessly to ensure the original purpose of the report was met. We represented patient groups in the official process, met with health officials, wrote letters to Ministers, and made the case to MP’s, parliament and select committees. 

“This process went badly off track somewhere and that can be seen in the potentially dangerous final report that has fortunately been rejected by government today.

“Having been rightly prompted by the JCVI to look into this vital issue of fairness, cost-saving seemed to creep in as the underlying objective as the process lengthened.

“Whilst I am delighted the packaged nature of this report has been rejected by government, I am left still waiting for answers on why improved accounting for the long term benefits of vaccines can’t be taken forward when this had such overwhelming support from the consultation.

“In truth, nearly five years on, the question that hasn’t been addressed is the one originally posed by JCVI – how do we make access to vaccines fairer for rare, severe diseases that can particularly affect children such as bacterial meningitis?

“Parents whose children have died or had life-altering damage to their health from meningitis due to lack of access to vaccines while this process has unfolded have a right to keep asking that question, and on behalf of them and future parents we won’t stop fighting for fairness.”

Read the government’s response here.

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