Fight for life-saving vaccine continues

Jo-Anne Dobson MLA meeting with Meningitis Trust representatives Judith Cuthbert, Community Nurse, Joanne Wilson, Fundraising Officer and Diane McConnell Deputy CEO of Meningitis Research Foundation and Donaghcloney fund-raiser and campaigner Lana Wells.
Jo-Anne Dobson MLA meeting with Meningitis Trust representatives Judith Cuthbert, Community Nurse, Joanne Wilson, Fundraising Officer and Diane McConnell Deputy CEO of Meningitis Research Foundation and Donaghcloney fund-raiser and campaigner Lana Wells.

The fight to have a vaccine for Meningitis made available to children continues with MLA Jo-Anne Dobson and Donaghcloney mum Lana Wells leading the campaign.

The pair met with representatives of the Meningitis Trust and Meningitis Research Foundation recently to discuss their continuing campaign to have the Meningitis B (MenB) vaccine Bexsero included on the child immunisation programme.

Earlier this year a government advisory body recommended that the Department of Health not introduce the only available vaccine to protect against a deadly form of meningitis.

Lana and her husband Karl have campaigned tirelessly for meningitis research following the loss of their beloved son Leo three years ago to this devastating disease. Together they have raised over £40,000 for research and, like so many others, feel strongly that the vaccine should be introduced immediately.

Mrs Dobson said: “On their behalf I wrote to the Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt MP. I asked him why the Government was opposed to introducing a vaccine which has been proven not only to be safe in early trials, but also to result in a strong antibody response to the meningitis bug.

“I am disappointed that in his response to my letter the Health Secretary points to the ‘cost effectiveness’ of the vaccine.

“Cost should not be brought into the equation when it comes to protecting vulnerable babies, especially as MenB is one of the most feared childhood infections in the country.

“I have also written to local Health Minister, Edwin Poots MLA regarding this decision.”

She added: “The Meningitis charities have told me this vaccine is not excessively expensive and it really comes down to the government putting a price on the life of a child. When I met recently with Lana and representatives from the Meningitis charities to discuss the response, I pledged once again to fully back their campaign and to ensure that their voice is heard both at Stormont and also at Westminster.”