Campaign for newborn Meningitis B jab

Published Tuesday, 23 April 2013
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A Strabane couple whose 16-year-old daughter died of Meningitis B have told UTV of their campaign to ensure all newborn babies vaccinated against the disease.

Sean and Marie Devine thought Terri had the flu when she complained of a headache and aches and pains just before Christmas in 2008.

Mrs Devine gave her daughter paracetamol and said there was nothing that made her believe Terri needed medical attention.

But the next day, they found the teenager unconscious in her bed, and she was rushed to Altnagelvin A&E in Londonderry.

Mrs Devine explained: "It was frightening... When we both went to the side of the bed and shook her, there was no response whatsoever - absolutely nothing -I think we both realised then this was really serious."

At the hospital, nurses, who revealed Terri had Meningitis B, brought the couple in to see the schoolgirl before she went for further tests.

Mr Devine said: "It was terrible, I remember walking through the door and there were so many nurses and doctors around her.

"But the thing that sticks in my head was the nurses standing crying, I knew then she was gravely ill."

Two days after she was admitted to hospital, Terri died and her organs were donated to a number of people, including a 10-month-old girl and a 14-year-old boy.

A vaccine has been developed which could prevent more than 70% of meningitis B cases - but it has not yet been given the green light by the government.

What price do you put on a life?

Sean Devine

The Devine family have started a petition calling for the injection to be included in the childhood immunisation programme.

"I would feel it an absolute tragedy now if there was a child to die in the next six months, from Meningitis B, knowing that there's a vaccine sitting in a lab that has been licensed," explained Mrs Devine.

"Losing a child is absolutely tragic, but to lose a child where the death might have been prevented and which now can be prevented...

"It will bring contentment to know that hopefully it will not be the case that there is another family having to lose a child."

Other children who have survived Meningitis B have had limbs amputated or been left mentally disabled.

Mr Devine said ensuring other children get the immunisation "would make this project worthwhile".

Almost 13,000 have put their names to the petition which is being backed by the Meningitis Research Foundation.

EXTERNAL LINKS / CONTACTS
The vaccine is to be considered by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation and a decision expected in June.
© UTV News
Comments Comments
4 Comments
jackie in belfast wrote (362 days ago):
Totally behind these parents,for god sake immunise the children against this dreadful illness!
laura fleming in strabane wrote (363 days ago):
i absolutely totally agree with sean and marie devine and family and others who knew terri. it was an awful expereience for them that they will never ever forget. and for them labs and goverment to even sit and consider weather or not this jab should come in is a disagree... fair play to everyone supporting this and i hope and prayer that the goverment will open there eyes to reality.
Antoinette Taylor in Strabane wrote (363 days ago):
Thank you for featuring this today. We are looking for the people of N.I. to get behind us and ensure we get the full backing of the J.C.V.I. who are the committee that are the advisory panel to the government for vaccinations. We can do this together and help make this Terri's legacy. Her death need not be in vain.
Helen in Strabane wrote (363 days ago):
I feel very strongly about this Men. B vaccine....I have lost a beautiful niece to this ruthless disease, whilst it will not help Terri, if it can save another life then this petition is very worthwhile... I hope that all the politicians, including the FIRST minister and DEPUTY first minister will all stand behind us as we try to promote the urgency of this Men. B vaccine...
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