Ulster Unionist MLA Jo-Anne Dobson is ‘delighted’ that the long battle for the ‘MenB’ Vaccine has been won.
Just last week Mrs Dobson hosted an event at Stormont, where the Chief Executive of UK-wide charity, Meningitis NOW, together with local families affected by Meningitis, continued to put pressure on the Government on the issue.
“This victory, which will save many young lives, has been too long coming but I am absolutely delighted for all the determined parents who simply refused to give in!” the Upper Bann MLA said.
“I especially think of the grit and determination of Donaghcloney campaigner, Lana Wells Gant, and her husband, Karl, who joined me last Monday night at Stormont at the Meningitis NOW CEO Roadshow.
“Lana and Karl lost their beloved son, Leo, to Meningitis and have raised tens of thousands of pounds for local Meningitis charities. They and their family - along with countless others across Northern Ireland - can walk tall today and be immensely proud of what they have achieved. They have held the feet of Health Ministers - both here and in London - to the fire, and the result is a lifesaving vaccine for all children.”
The result - which comes after 12 months of negotiation - means that every newborn baby will receive the Meningitis B Vaccine, Bexsero, after a deal was made with drug manufacturers.
“I would like to thank the hundred of people who signed our joint petition on Meningitis, calling for this vaccine to be introduced immediately,” Mrs Dobson continued.
“Their support and signatures have achieved a victory and this is a victory for people power! The UK will now become the first country in the world to have a national Meningitis B vaccination programme, and it’s not down to Government statistics - but the sheer determination of passionate parents.
“As part of the concerted pressure, I wrote to the Health Minister, Jeremy Hunt MP, on many occasions during the negotiations, and have kept the pressure on our successive local Health Ministers here in NI. The wheels of Government grind far too slowly on issues as important as this.
“I pay tribute to the two major charities, Meningitis NOW and The Meningitis Research Foundation, alongside countless families, volunteers and campaigners, who have kept up the pressure.”