Vinny Smith, Chief Executive at MRF said, “We are obviously very concerned about the reported rise in MenC cases. This has coincided with the period since the withdrawal of the dose for infants at three months old and we have raised this with public health bodies on behalf of patients and families who have rightly expressed their worries too.
“Public health experts have told us they are monitoring the situation closely. Experts have explained that the increase in MenC cases is likely to be an extremely unusual event, and unlikely to represent a national trend. However, we would like to see a clear plan to show what measures are in place to ensure that protection against this dreadful disease is sustained.
“MRF campaigns to ensure that any NHS meningitis vaccine programme offers the best protection against meningitis for everyone. We have called for greater transparency from government bodies so it is clear how and why vaccine decisions are made.
“We are also calling on all eligible young people to get their free MenACWY vaccine to protect themselves, and others against four types of meningitis, Men A, C, W and Y. Most young adults aged between 14 and 22 are eligible to get the vaccine but uptake has not been very high in the upper end of this age group. It’s easy for anyone to check their eligibility for this free vaccine at: www.meningitis.org/oneshot.”
The JCVI said in a statement that it believes that optimum control of MenC disease can only be achieved if vaccine coverage in older adolescents and young adults is improved.
JCVI therefore believes that GPs should be strongly encouraged and supported to improve coverage in those aged 18 to less than 25 years who are eligible for vaccination.
MRF is encouraged to hear that in response to this, the Department of Health and Social Care, NHS England and Public Health England, supported by the Chief Medical Officer, will work to improve MenACWY vaccine coverage in this age group.
MRF has written to the public health officials to ask how this will be taken forward.