Mother's fight for meningitis vaccine

Published Friday, 14 February 2014
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A mother who lost her son to Meningitis B has joined a campaign to have a new vaccination, which could help prevent the deadly condition, provided to children for free.

Mother's fight for meningitis vaccine
David Ellson passed away 12 years ago after contracting meningitis. (© UTV)

David Ellson was just two-and-a-half when he died, 12 years ago, on 14 February.

He had meningitis and septicaemia and sadly passed away within 24 hours of developing the first symptom.

His mother Maureen told UTV: "We were aware of meningitis before then, we were aware of how serious it was.

"I actually had a symptoms card from the Meningitis Research Foundation in my purse and a symptoms poster on the inside of a cupboard wall in the kitchen because I had two young children but I don't think I was aware just how devastating it could be."

Maureen has two other sons who she now wants to get vaccinated with the new meningitis B jab.

It was licensed by Europe in January last year, and the Meningitis Research Foundation has been campaigning for all children to get it free, however, that's not currently an option.

Dianne McConnell from the Meningitis Research Foundation said: "The Joint Committee for Vaccination and Immunisation said it wasn't cost effective at any cost and we as an organisation and others have asked them to look again at it and they are."

Anyone who wants the vaccination will have to pay privately for it and that can cost up to £200 for each injection with younger children needing more doses than an older child.

You can’t put a price on being able to prevent something like this.

Maureen Ellson

Maureen added: "I don't understand how they can say it is not cost effective.

"For our family, we lost a son and that had a devastating impact on us and there are other families out there whose children are losing limbs or being left severely brain damaged."

There were 22 confirmed cases of meningitis B in Northern Ireland in the last year and in one death the condition was mentioned as a contributing factor in the fatality.

GP Lisa Neiligan said the condition was a parents' "worst nightmare" and her two children had received the vaccination.

She added: "It is extremely aggressive and it does mimic other viral illnesses and bacterial illnesses so a lot of parents won't recognise the symptoms early because the child will be a little bit irritable.

"They might have a bit of a temperature and then they might put the child to bed with a bit of a paracetamol or something and by that stage it is too late."

In a statement the Department of Health said: "In Northern Ireland, as in the rest of the UK, the vaccination policy is informed by the work of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).

"Once the final JCVI recommendations have been received by the health minister he will consider them before deciding what the policy will be in Northern Ireland."

It is understood a decision on the introduction of the vaccine will taken at the end of March.

© UTV News
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