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Following a petition signed by more than 820,000 people, which called for wider access to the MenB vaccine, the Petitions and Health Committees in 2016 heard evidence from families, charities and medical experts. It was clear from this that there were serious concerns about the way that the Government decides whether a vaccine is cost-effective.
A group known as “CEMIPP”— “Cost Effectiveness Methodology for Immunisation Programmes and Procurement” looked into vaccine decision making rules and produced a report. The Committees called on the Government to publish the CEMIPP report, and to commit to doing a full public consultation on its recommendations. The Government agreed to publish the report, and said that it hoped to do this before the end of 2016.
Nearly two years after the petition closed, and despite repeated requests from MPs, that report has not been published. The Petitions Committee has called in the Minister to explain why.
Vinny Smith, Chief Executive of Meningitis Research Foundation, said:
“If the rules had been fair in the first place, we estimate that around 400 cases of MenB in the under 5s might have been avoided.* If we had fairer rules guiding who does and doesn’t get vaccines in this country, some tragic losses could be prevented. The Minister and his Department must take this opportunity, nearly two years after the report was promised to over 800,000 parents and individuals, to publish it and have a proper consultation on its findings.”
Helen Jones MP, Chair of the Petitions Committee, said:
“The petition calling for the meningitis B vaccine to be given to all children was signed by 823,000 people—many of them moved by the stories of families who had lost children to this devastating disease. It’s the third largest petition we’ve ever had on the parliamentary e-petitions site, which shows just how important this issue is to the public.
"It was clear from the evidence that we heard in 2016 that there are serious questions to answer about the way the Government decides which vaccines are cost-effective. The Government itself recognises this—it set up its own Working Group to investigate. But that report was produced 18 months ago and it still hasn’t seen the light of day.
"These may sound like technical issues, but they’re key to decisions that could save children’s lives. The Committee will want to find out from the Minister why the Government is dragging its feet on something so important.”
The Chairs of the Health and Petitions Committees wrote to the Department of Health about the meningitis B vaccine in November 2017 – you can view this correspondence here: https://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/petitions-committee/publications/
*The figure represents the numbers of cases (not deaths) of MenB disease we would expect to see in children under the age of 5 and vaccine ineligible (over 5 months old) when the MenB vaccination programme began (in Sept 2015) until they reach 5 years of age. Cases are counted until the last of this vaccine ineligible group reach age 5 (April 2020). Data is based on age-specific incidence of MenB for the epidemiological year 2014/15.