'Not all can afford meningitis jabs'

October 06 2017

A LEADING meningitis charity is calling on parents to make themselves aware of the signs and symptoms of the potentially deadly disease, saying not all mums and dads can afford private vaccinations.

A LEADING meningitis charity is calling on parents to make themselves aware of the signs and symptoms of the potentially deadly disease, saying not all mums and dads can afford private vaccinations.
It comes in the wake of the deaths of two students from St Brendan's Sixth-Form College as well as recent reports of other cases of meningitis in Bristol.
Vaccines against strains of the disease are available; however there is no vaccine to protect against all types.
Isabel Gentry, 16, and George Zographou, 18, both students at St Brendan's, died from meningitis B, a very complex and aggressive strain of bacterial meningitis.
Currently vaccines for meningitis B are given to babies as part of the childhood immunisation programme but if your child was born before May 1, 2015 they will not be offered it.
The vaccine is, however, available privately, with Boots in Longwell Green being especially busy with requests from concerned parents.
Children and young adults aged between two and 21 are eligible for the private vaccine, which is available in two doses at the cost of £110 per dose.
Although delighted the vaccine is now available, the charity Meningitis Now is aware that not all parents can pay.
Dr Tom Nutt, CEO of Meningitis Now, said: "Although the Men B vaccine is available privately, we understand that the financial burden may be too much to bear for some families. Knowing the signs and symptoms of meningitis should be the first line of defence for everyone, as well as taking advantage of the NHS vaccines available."
From September 2015, the Men ACWY (which offers protection against the four groups of meningococcal bacteria A, C, W and Y) has been offered to teenagers in school at around age  14. A catch up programme offers the vaccination up to the age of 18. First year university students under the age of 25 are also eligible.
Public Health England (PHE) says the number of cases of meningitis B is what would be expected.
In a letter to headteachers dated September 19 2017, Julie Yates of PHE, said: "There have been four cases of meningococcal disease in a social network of young people who have previous links to St Brendan’s College, Bristol. These cases have occurred over a 15 month period. All four cases were caused by a group B strain of the meningococcal bacteria (Men B).
Ms Yates added that PHE is arranging Men B vaccinations for 150 people that have been identified as having had specific contact with the previous cases.
She added: "These individuals are being personally contacted are being offered antibiotics and vaccination. We can confirm that there is no additional risk to other students attending St Brendan’s college or to the wider population."