Vaccination against group B meningococcal disease (MenB) has resulted in a significant decline in cases of the disease in young children since the programme was introduced, research published in the New England Journal of Medicine has found.
The study, commissioned by Public Health England, found that by the third year of the programme, cases of MenB disease were 62% lower in children who were eligible for at least 2 doses of the vaccine. Between 2015 and 2018, an estimated 277 out of an expected 446 cases were prevented because of the programme.
‘England has one of the most comprehensive immunisation programmes in the world. The implementation of the MenB vaccine in 2015 is a great success, it is already saving lives and means fewer parents and young children will experience this devastating illness,’ said Dr Shamez Ladhani, Consultant Epidemiologist at Public Health England .
‘It is vital that children receive all available vaccines on time to provide the best protection at the age when they are at highest risk. PHE is working closely with NHS England to make it as easy as possible for parents to access vaccines so that they can offer their children the best possible start in life.’
In September 2015, the UK became the first country to offer a new vaccine (Bexsero) against MenB to babies at 8 and 16 weeks of age, followed by a booster around their first birthday. Infants in the first year of life have the highest incidence of MenB disease so vaccinating at these times helps protect them when they are most at risk.
‘What this latest news shows is that vaccines save lives. We’d encourage as many families as possible to take advantage of this vaccine, protect their children from meningitis, and avoid the heartache that this devastating disease leaves in its wake,’ said Dr Tom Nutt, CEO at Meningitis Now.
‘We know that there’s a lot of misinformation about vaccines on social media and on the internet, but this latest report shows that parents shouldn’t worry about the safety of the vaccine – in fact, it saves precious lives.’