UK: Meningitis B debate in Parliament today after thousands signed petition

Portrait de AGORA moderator

Parents are hoping for a government U-turn over plans to only immunise young babies against Meningitis B.

The government is discussing the issue in parliament this afternoon after more than 800,000 people signed a petition calling for the jab to be given to all children up to the age of 11.

The vaccine to protect against one of the most aggressive strains of the disease became available on the NHS for babies last September, but parents who want to have older children vaccinated must pay privately - with many places out of stock.

The jab has been in huge demand following a number of high profile cases - including heartbreaking images shared by the parents of tragic two-year-old Faye Burdett who fell victim to the disease.
In March we reported how parents on a waiting list were told limited stock had become available at one private clinic - but at a higher price.

MASTA clinic in Deansgate increased the cost from £130 to £174, with a company spokesman saying the increase reflected the fact the vaccine was being imported.

MPs were set to discuss the issue in Parliament today and parents are hoping it will lead to a change in legislation.

Mum Rosalyn Tighe, from Monton, is currently on a waiting list to get the jab for her 20-month-old daughter Abigail who was too old to get the jab when the immunisation was rolled out.

The 37-year-old said: "It has been on my mind but the recent publicity of children affected promoted me to make enquiries.

"I was influenced particularly by the fact I am pregnant at the moment and so I would be in the position with two small children, only one of them immunised. I therefore feel compelled to make sure both children are treated the same."
She added: "I have been on the waiting list for a number of private companies and last week Boots emailed to confirm they are still waiting and the cost remains at £90 per injection. I will need to get two for my daughter given her age.

"MASTA have emailed to say stock is now in but the cost has increased to £170 per jab. It can't help but feel that private companies are exploiting the situation and effectively can charge what they like - especially to those already anxious enough to get on the list - but I don't think I have much choice.

"I have heard rumours the base cost of the injection is just a few pounds. Clearly some people are making a lot of profit on this issue.

"I do understand the NHS have lots of competing interests but if it's not viable to introduce to all children - what about the option to have the jab at the base cost - what it would be to the NHS?"
In February we shared a list of places in Greater Manchester where people could be added to a waiting list for the jab.

GlaxoSmithKline, which has produced the vaccine globally since acquiring the licence in December 2013, confirmed being unable to meet the current demand and says the situation remains unchanged.