THE Meningitis Trust has called a new vaccine to protect against MenB – one of the most common and deadly forms of meningitis – a ‘significant milestone’ in the fight against the disease.
This week the vaccine moved a step closer to being made available in the UK after being granted a licence from the European Commission on Wednesday, January 23.
The Trust is now urging the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) – the body that advises the Secretary of State for Health – to make a positive and quick recommendation to introduce the vaccine as early as possible.
Five people every day contract MenB and one person will die every two days.
Sue Davie, chief executive of the Trust, said: "It’s wonderful news that this new vaccine has now been licensed, but licensing alone will not save lives.
"That will only happen when the vaccine is introduced into the Childhood Immunisation Programme, and this can’t happen soon enough."
In recent years there has been an annual average of 1,870 cases of MenB in the UK, with ten per cent of victims dying and a third of survivors being left with long-term after-effects, such as brain damage or limb loss.
The Trust is also warning people about the risk of becoming complacent about meningitis.
Sue Davie reiterated the fact that even after this vaccine is introduced meningitis is not going away.
"As a support-focussed organisation, our commitment is that we will always be here for those individuals and families already affected by meningitis and those that will sadly continue to contract the disease," she added.
"Whatever the future holds in the battle against this devastating disease we will always be here for you."
The Trust is urging everyone to make themselves aware of all the symptoms of the disease and to continue to protect themselves and their loved ones.
Free smart phone apps can be downloaded at www.meningitisapp.co.uk. Or visit www.meningitis-trust.org for information, or call the freephone 24-hour helpline on 0808 80 10 388 to request a free signs and symptoms card.