Donaghcloney couple Lana and Karl Wells, who lost their son to meningitis, are outraged that a lifesaving vaccine is not available on the NHS.
Last week the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) took the decision not to bring the MenB vaccine into the childhood immunisation programme.
Instead they called for more medical evidence, despite the fact that the vaccine is currently licensed for use in the UK.
Many local parents, like Donaghcloney couple Lana and Karl Wells, have been long-term campaigners for the Meningitis Research Foundation. Their son Leo was two years and five months old when he lost his short battle with meningococcal septicaemia three years ago.
Lana said: “There’s a 73% chance of survival with this vaccine. By saying it’s not cost effective they’re effectively putting a figure on a life.
They (JCVI) need to spend time in hospital and make a decision based on their hearts and not on figures.”
She said: “I have friends throughout the UK who have been through similar experiences and are backing a petition to overturn the decision.”
Lana approached Ulster Unionist MLA Jo-Anne Dobson, who previously hosted a charity coffee morning for the charity in her constituency office, for help to fight this decision.
Reflecting the outrage felt amongst many local people at this decision Mrs Dobson said: “This has come as a bitter blow to those who have been fighting for the lifesaving vaccine for Meningitis B (MenB) to be made available in Northern Ireland.
“I fully support the many parents like Lana and Karl who are not prepared to sit quietly and take no for an answer. This decision removes their hope, hope for a better future for their children and for generations to come.
“Lana is a credit to all those who have been affected by Meningitis and who wish to progress research into the causes, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of this disease. Through her campaigning she has raised over forty thousand pounds to help others and I will continue to help and support her and the families who are fighting to save lives.
“We all know that the UK has one of the highest incident rates of MenB, and this makes it all the harder to understand why the Government would say no to a vaccine.
“I am a strong supporter of the work of the Meningitis Research Foundation which has worked for over thirty years for medical breakthroughs like this vaccine, making it all the harder to understand why the decision has been taken not to introduce it, despite the fact it is licensed for use in the UK.
“I have written to the Health Minister Jeremy Hunt in London, and also Edwin Poots locally to put pressure on them to overturn this decision.”
People can sign the petition at http://www.beat-it-now.org