Meningitis B Vaccine March 2016
Thank you for contacting me recently regarding provision of Meningitis B vaccinations.
I sympathise profoundly with families who have been affected by Meningitis B, and appreciate the efforts of the campaign organisations and charities that work hard to improve the understanding and awareness of the disease, provide support to sufferers or carry out research. The public had demonstrated their concern with this issue through an online petition, which has now attracted more than 800,000 signatures and is the most successful online petition in parliamentary history. I, myself, take this matter very seriously. In fact, I personally wrote to the Minister of Health in November voicing my strong belief that all babies should receive Meningitis B jabs.
Whilst the overall number of recorded incidences of Meningitis B has roughly halved over the last decade, I agree there is still more work to be done. Meningitis B remains a real and present threat, which makes the ongoing work of campaigners and charities, who raise awareness and provide support for those who have contracted the disease, really important.
As you may be aware, in March 2014 the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), which advises UK health departments on immunisation, recommended that the Meningitis B vaccine be offered to all children at two months old, with booster jabs given at four months and twelve months old. The Government has said it will not implement the vaccine outside of the current advice but that all the evidence should be looked at carefully, including by the JCVI.
The vaccination of all new-born babies against Meningitis B from September 2015 is a welcome move that could potentially prevent more than 4,000 cases of the disease over the next decade. Although it is too early to assess the impact of the new vaccination programme on the number of recorded incidences of Meningitis B, Public Health England has reported a high uptake in the programme following its launch in September 2015.
It is welcome that the Petitions Committee has agreed to schedule a debate in Parliament on the petition. It is also welcome that they have called for evidence from families who have been affected by Meningitis B, as well as from relevant medical experts. I assure you I will follow the debate closely and bear in mind the points you raise.
Thank you once again for writing to me and for sharing your views.