Meningitis B vaccine available again
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I was pleased to read over the last few days that stocks of the Meningitis B vaccine are now available again in major high street chemists.
Meningitis B is a potentially fatal bacterial infection which can cause devastating damage within an alarmingly short space of time. It is the rapidity and severity of the infection that causes fear in parents. It is essential that the early signs and symptoms of the disease are recognised very quickly so that emergency hospital treatment can be started as soon as possible to try to combat the infection. Young babies and children are particularly susceptible to this strain of the infection.
Babies born after May 2015 are eligible to be vaccinated against Meningitis B on the NHS through the infant vaccination programme, but children born before this date are not eligible to have the vaccine on the NHS, despite a petition delivered to parliament comprising of hundreds of thousands of signatures.
Earlier this year there was widespread publicity following the very sad death of Faye Burdett, who died at the age of just two years old as a result of Meningitis B infection. This led to a surge in the number of parents seeking to buy the vaccine privately so that their children could be vaccinated, an increase in price at some clinics and ultimately to vaccine stocks being exhausted. The vaccine has been out of stock at most establishments now for a period of three months, although babies young enough to benefit from the NHS programme, have continued to receive the vaccine.
Of course, there is an argument that the vaccine should be available to all children on the NHS, but for the present time this is not the case. The vaccine is now back in stock at high street pharmacies at a cost of around £95.00 which in itself means that there are many parents who simply will be unable to afford it.
Vigilance and parental instinct remain key in detecting meningitis early enough for treatment to be effective. Early symptoms can be rather vague and not dissimilar to a cold or flu, such as a fever, headache, vomiting, muscle pain and cold hands and feet. Babies may have an unusual cry and your child may have an aversion to bright lights. The development of a non-blanching rash is often a later sign and if your child is unwell and getting worse and you are concerned, you should not wait for this to develop before seeking urgent medical help. It is also important to remember that bacterial Meningitis can affect people of all ages. Further information can be found at Meningitis Now, https://www.meningitisnow.org/meningitis-explained/signs-and-symptoms/.
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