Bexsero, a vaccine for meningitis B, is to be added to the national childhood immunisation schedule, health secretary Jeremy Hunt has announced.
The vaccine will be given to all babies aged two months and over, followed by two more doses as they get older. The DH has yet to announce when the immunisations will begin, but Mr Hunt suggested that it would start in 2015.
Meningitis campaign group Meningitis Now have stated the introduction of Bexsero is extremely positive, as the UK has one of the highest rates of meningitis B in the world, and the disease is the leading cause of deaths for children aged under five. The Bexsero vaccine has also been seen to have an impact on the Meningitis W strain of the illness.
Chris Head, chief executive of Meningitis Research Foundation said: 'Meningitis B has been at the top of this charity's agenda for decades and we are delighted that vaccinating all babies against this devastating disease is now within sight, cementing the UK's position as a world leader in meningitis prevention.'
The addition of Bexsero to the immunisation scheme came after the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation recommended its addition in 2014. The delay in its introduction was due to negotiations over pricing between the government and GlaxoSmithKline, the pharmaceutical company which owns Bexsero. Meningitis Now's chief executive Sue Davie said: 'There are still strains of meningitis that do not have a vaccine, and, of course, today's news does not protect many others from contracting the disease. Even in this time of good news, we must remind people to remain vigilant for the signs and symptoms and, if they suspect meningitis, seek medical help immediately.'