Meningitis Research Foundation (MRF) today launches the ‘Vaccines Are Vital’ campaign to help combat growing concern that the COVID-19 pandemic could threaten global immunisation uptake. MRF is encouraging everyone, everywhere, to take up the routine vaccinations available to them.
The World Health Organization (WHO) stated in mid-April 2020 that routine vaccinations should continue despite lockdown measures. In the UK, this was reiterated by Public Health England, the Chief Medical Officer/ Medical Director of NHS Wales, and the Scottish Government. Ireland’s Health Service Executive also advised that routine immunisations continue amidst measures to combat COVID-19.
Despite this, MRF’s Support team have continued to receive dozens of enquiries from families asking if they should still attend vaccine appointments. Although certain school immunisation programmes have been suspended in line with government guidance, any vaccine appointments due to take place in a health professional setting must continue. If vaccines are missed, we could see a resurgence of diseases that have been largely prevented.
“Vaccines are vital because they save lives,” said Gemma Lessells, MRF Ambassador. Gemma’s son Matthew contracted deadly MenB meningitis in 2010, aged just 13 months.
The MenB vaccine is now routinely given to babies in the UK and Ireland at 2, 4 and 12 months. After Matthew’s recovery, Gemma and her family helped MRF raise awareness of the devastating consequences of MenB meningitis, and supported our campaign that helped to get a MenB vaccine into routine immunisation in the UK.
MRF Ambassador Danny Sweatman, who has endured the very rare experience of losing two family members – his brothers Ryan and Joe – to meningitis, is also a vocal advocate of vaccines.
He said: “Vaccines are vital. I know they can’t bring Ryan or Joe back, but they can certainly help prevent other families from experiencing the same pain that we have been through.”
MRF’s Vaccines are Vital campaign urges individuals to ensure they continue to prioritise immunisation whilst observing government guidance to combat COVID-19. We have also provided access to vaccine schedules in different countries, and advice on identifying misinformation related to vaccines. Any missed vaccine appointments should be rescheduled as soon as possible.