UK babies will be the first worldwide to be routinely vaccinated against Meningitis B, after the UK government finally reached a deal with drug giant GlaxoSmithkline over the jab’s price.
As a result Bexsero, the only licensed MenB vaccine, will now be added to the national childhood immunisation programme, with children to receive their first shot at two months of age, followed by two further doses.
The Joint Vaccine Committee on Vaccine and Immunisation (JCVI) recommended Bexsero for the national immunisation programme more than a year ago, but negotiations on price only started in August. Campaigners have long slammed this lengthy process which, they claim, has cost lives and also put children at risk from suffering other devastating consequences of the disease, such as limb loss.
Professor Andrew Pollard, Chair of the JCVI, said the Committee anticipates that introduction of the new meningitis B vaccine for babies “will reduce the number of cases in early childhood, ease the burden of the disease for the NHS and defend the health of the nation’s children.”
GSK said it is delighted to have reached an agreement with the government that it believes “offers fair value for the NHS and allows a reasonable return for [the company]".
But while applauding the “historic” move, UK charity Meningitis Now also points out that the announcement “fails to provide parents with the essential information as to when the immunisation programme will begin,” and that, “until this is announced, babies will remain at risk”.