Mike Gapes MP is backing a nationwide campaign to introduce a new meningitis B vaccine after meeting families left devastated by the disease.
Mike met families and young people directly affected by meningitis at an event in Westminster last week, which brought together MPs from all parties to understand the impact of meningitis in the UK.
The event was hosted by Meningitis Now, the UK’s biggest meningitis charity, recently created from the merger of Meningitis Trust and Meningitis UK.
At the reception, MPs from all parties were invited to make a pledge to support Meningitis Now and get behind the vaccine campaign. Mike gapes pledged to write an article on his website.
Mike said “After meeting families and hearing from young people directly affected by meningitis, I was keen to make a commitment to do everything I can to support this campaign.
“Meningitis is unpredictable and is still the disease feared most by parents. Vaccines have made a huge impact on cases in the last 10 years but it still affects thousands of people. The new meningitis B vaccine has the potential to save two children’s lives every week. That’s why I’m supporting the campaign to bring it in.”
The UK has one of the highest Men B incidence rates in the world, affecting an average of 1,870 people each year for the last 10 years, most of whom are babies and children.
Meningitis B accounts for 50% of the total cases of bacterial meningitis in the UK.
One in ten people who get bacterial meningitis will die and one in three will be left with life-changing after-effects such as brain damage or limb loss.
Meningitis Now has been campaigning to bring the B vaccine in since January and delivered a 20,000 signature petition to Downing Street on Wednesday 23rd October.
Chief Executive of Meningitis Now, Sue Davie said: “I want to thank Mike Gapea MP MP for support and for taking time out to listen to the real life experiences of families affected by meningitis.
“Meningitis Now will keep campaigning, with the public and politicians, until this vaccine is introduced into the routine childhood immunisation programme. Time lost is lives lost and we are urging people who haven’t done so, to sign our petition today."
The meningitis B vaccine was licensed for use in the UK in January this year, but in July the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) published a statement saying that evidence was insufficient to substantiate its cost-effectiveness. The charity subsequently responded with its own detailed recommendations to the JCVI and these are being considered in the JCVI’s current deliberations.
Meningitis Now is also calling on its supporters to write to their own MP to ask for their support, and to urge them to write to Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt.
For more information on Meningitis Now, the disease and how to support Beat it Now vaccine campaign visit www.meningitisnow.org