Dr Chiara Hunt is a General Practitioner at the Sloane Street Surgery in London. A mother of two, she is co-founder of The Bump Class, London’s go-to antenatal class for discerning mothers-to-be who want impartial, practical and sensible advice before the birth of their baby.
I have been asked by a lot of parents recently about the new meningitis B vaccination, which you may have read about in the press. Meningitis B is the leading cause of bacterial meningitis in the UK. It’s the nightmare scenario that most parents are terrified of. Meningococcal meningitis kills more children under 5 than any other infection. Surviving children are often left with limb amputations. Adolescents and university students are also at higher risk and adults can also catch the disease.
A new vaccination has recently become available in the UK. It is not yet available through the NHS, largely due to concerns over cost, however, it is available privately. In the near future, the meningitis B vaccination will be made available on the NHS to people with medical conditions that increase their chance of getting the disease.
The meningitis B vaccination has been licenced by the European commission which has judged it to be safe and effective.
Children over 2 and adults will need two doses of the vaccination, at least two months apart. Younger children will need more and it can be incorporated into their first year vaccination schedule. You should talk to your GP about this.
The vaccination costs around £75 per dose and there may be a charge for the doctor or nurse to administer it. Some NHS GPs and travel clinics may be able to offer it privately and most private GPs and paediatricians will have it in stock.
The meningitis website has lots more clear information about it.
The bottom line? This is a very exciting new development in the world of vaccines and will save a lot of lives. I suspect and hope that it will be part of the UK vaccination programme before long. Both my children had it this week….