Penningtons Solicitors LLP has added its voice to the Meningitis Research Foundation’s (MRF) call during Meningitis Awareness Week for the implementation of a vaccine, Bexsero, for MenB which could save and change lives. MenB is a disease that can kill or cause life-changing injuries to a child within hours of the first symptoms and remains the most common cause of bacterial meningitis in the UK and Ireland.
Bexsero was licensed by The European Commission in January 2013 but the Joint Committee for Vaccinations and Immunisations (JCVI) in the UK has not recommended its use due to a concern about cost-effectiveness and some evidence of a recent drop in cases. However, the vaccine may be available to people with medical conditions that put them at high risk of meningococcal disease.
The MRF commented that the JCVI has “failed to take into account the full impact of MenB and the full cost to the NHS” and that “there is no consideration of the astronomical costs to government either; tens of millions of pounds are paid out in negligence claims to families who successfully sue the NHS for mismanagement or misdiagnosis”.
The clinical negligence team at Penningtons regularly sees the devastation this disease can bring and has successfully concluded countless claims for families with children of all ages who have contracted this disease but who have not been treated in a timely or appropriate way by their GP or other health professional.
The MRF statistics indicate that there are over 3,000 cases of bacterial meningitis each year in the UK of which 300 are fatal and one in four are left with permanent disability. Although the torment of a poor outcome can be avoided with quick diagnosis and correct treatment, a vaccine would ensure many children are not put at risk of contracting the disease in the first place.
Philippa Luscombe, clinical negligence partner at Penningtons, said: “We strongly urge the JCVI to reconsider its stance in the hope that a MenB vaccine can be introduced as this could save thousands of lives and give parents the reassurance of protection for their children.
“It is crucial to be aware of the symptoms of meningitis and we highlight these on a regular basis, particularly in Meningitis Awareness Week, in the hope that some deaths will be avoided. However, the best protection against a disease of this kind is prevention through a vaccine. It is heart-breaking to listen to an all too familiar story from parents who have lost a child to this disease. Given the investment and research that has gone into developing this vaccine, it is astounding that we would decide not use it in the UK.”