The government has rejected calls for the meningitis B vaccine to be given to all children on the grounds that tthis would not be cost effective.
A petition, which garnered a record number of signatures (over 819,000), requested the extension of vaccinations to all children up to the age of 11. The government said that they were following recommendations from the Joint Council on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI). They stated that the programme of immunisation was targeted at those most at risk of contracting the illness, infants aged between two and five months. Despite this Parliament is still set to debate the vaccine soon.
‘Our priority is to protect those children most at risk of MenB, in line with JCVI’s recommendation,’ said the government’s response to the petition. ‘The NHS budget is a finite resource. It is therefore essential that JCVI’s recommendations are underpinned by evidence of cost-effectiveness. Offering the vaccine outside of JCVI’s advice would not be cost effective, and would not therefore represent a good use of NHS resources which should be used to benefit the health and care of the most people possible.’
The vaccination programme for infants began in September 2015 and encompasses all children between two-five months or born after May 2015. By May 2017, all children under the age of two years will have been offered the vaccine. It is also available for a small number of older children and adults who are at increased risk of infection.
‘When any new immunisation programme is introduced, there has to be a cut-off date to determine eligibility,’ added the spokesperson. ‘While this is extremely difficult for parents whose children aren’t eligible there is no other way of establishing new programmes to target those at highest risk without introducing inequalities.’