UK leads the way in worldwide scheme to offer a national, routine and publicly funded Meningitis B vaccination.
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As part of the routine NHS childhood vaccination programme, a new vaccine is being offered in the UK to newborn babies in a pioneering national scheme to prevent the contraction of Meningococcal B disease (Men B).
The Men B vaccine has been introduced to protect babies against infection by meningococcal group B bacteria which are responsible for over 90% of meningococcal infections in young children.
Babies and young children are highly vulnerable to contracting meningococcal infections which can lead to the development of meningitis and septicaemia. These in turn can have devastating effects such as brain damage, amputations and in some tragic cases, death.
From today, babies born on or after 1 July 2015 will be offered the Men B vaccine at 2, 4 and 12 months, with a catch up programme in place to vaccinate babies born on or after 1 May 2015. The vaccination will be given alongside other routine infant vaccinations and parents will be contacted automatically by their GP surgery or health centre. The vaccine will be administered to babies as a single injection to their thigh.
Although it is hoped that up to 4,000 cases of meningitis will be prevented by 2025, parents are warned of babies' and young children's continued vulnerability to meningococcal infections and are reminded to be vigilant if symptoms such as high fever, cold hands and feet, agitation, confusion, vomiting and headaches arise. Meningitis is a potentially life-threatening disease and can progress with terrifying speed. If parents are concerned, they should seek urgent medical assistance.
This is a massive step forward for the UK in the prevention of meningitis for babies and young children and we hope that this positive leap has an equally positive effect on the health of future generations.
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