Fight goes on to have vaccine included on programme

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.

Donaghcloney campaigner Lana Wells has teamed up with Ulster Unionist MLA Jo-Anne Dobson to continue the fight to have a drug included on the child immunisation programme.

The pair believe that the Meningitis B (MenB) vaccine Bexsero should be given to kids, and they met with representatives of the Meningitis Trust and Meningitis Research Foundation recently to discuss their campaign.

Earlier this year a Government advisory body, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), recommended that the Department of Health should not introduce the vaccine to protect against a deadly form of meningitis.

Lana and her husband, Karl, lost their son Leo three years ago to the disease.

Mrs Dobson said: “The recommendation of the JCVI shocked parents across the country who have been campaigning for years for a MenB vaccine to be introduced.

“Locally I was contacted by Lana and her husband Karl and other mummies and daddies who rightly have very strong feelings that this vaccine should be made available to all babies.

“Together Lana and Karl have raised over £40,000 for research and, like so many others, feel strongly that the vaccine should be introduced immediately.

“On their behalf I wrote to the Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt MP, in London to express their concerns and put pressure on him to overturn this decision.

“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.

“The Meningitis charities have told me that this vaccine is not excessively expensive and that it really comes down to the Government putting a price on the life of a child.

“I have also written to the local Health Minister, Edwin Poots MLA regarding this decision.“When I met recently with Lana and representatives from the Meningitis charities to discuss the response from Jeremy Hunt, I pledged once again to fully back their campaign and to ensure that their voice is heard both at Stormont and also at Westminster where the results of a review of the joint committee’s recommendation is expected in November.”