Meningitis B vaccine launched in England: How many have had it?

Image copyright Ian Marsh, courtesy of Cancer Research UK Image caption Abi Marsh was four when she died of a rare brain tumour

Two-and-a-half years after the the vaccine against meningitis B was initially rolled out across England, more than 120,000 children have had the jab.

It is now available at no charge for every school in England and the roll-out is continuing to be rolled out.

Meningitis B strikes in people who have never been exposed to the bug, most commonly through dating.

It is a relatively rare infection but can be deadly if not treated.

It can cause tissue and brain damage, and the vaccine against it has been available in the UK since 2011.

It was offered free to adults and older children from the summer of 2016.

A sign promoting the pneumococcal vaccine on a primary school wall Image caption A warning pops up on a classroom wall informing parents of the vaccine

Since then it has been available at no cost to the NHS through Community B Vaccination Services (CBS).

Those vaccinated now have to pay for renewals once every two years.

That means some parents who paid for the vaccine at no cost to them will now have to have it as part of their childcare package – a cost that could be steep.

Julia Redfern from CAMHS Manchester NHS Foundation Trust has been working on the roll-out of the Pneumococcal (MenB) vaccine.

She said: “It is still early days. When we started two years ago, there were just 79 places.

“But since then we have added 120,000.

“There are 50,000 youngsters who now have the vaccination and in September 2018, we reached 125,000 kids.

“It’s taken time to get to this number. But it’s been a significant milestone.

“It’s difficult for parents to make long-term plans with money.

“We don’t know how the vaccine will be priced in the future, but there has been an overwhelming need for this vaccine.”

She continued: “The children who were here at the start of the roll-out were missing out – they are old enough to become eligible.

“A lot of them missed out because of early decisions that they were aged 13-15. It makes it harder.

“But we also have to balance the future needs of a boy or girl from the day they are born with having a person who is missing out who is younger.”

After the first round of roll-out, there were worries from health professionals that children and young people who were already over the age of consent would not get the vaccine.

But anyone under 18 could have the vaccine with parental consent.

The scale of the roll-out on the first stage allowed areas to adjust and take risks on things like who had the vaccine.

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