|“All babies in the UK will soon have a potentially life-saving vaccine against meningitis B,” The Guardian reports. The vaccine, Bexsero, willsoon be offered to babies once they reach the age of two months, followed by two more booster shots.
What is meningitis B?
Meningitis B is a highly aggressive strain of bacterial meningitis that infects the protective membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord. It is very serious and should be treated as a medical emergency. If the infection is left untreated, it can cause severe brain damage and infect the blood (septicaemia). In some cases, bacterial meningitis can be fatal.
How common is meningitis B?
The charity Meningitis Now estimates that there are 1,870 cases of meningitis B each year in the UK. Meningitis B is most common in children under five years old, particularly in babies under the age of one.
Initial signs and symptoms of meningitis B in babies include:
For more information, read about the signs and symptoms of serious illness in babies.
Why is this meningitis B vaccine in the news?
The development of a safe and effective meningitis B vaccine is the culmination of more than 20 years of research and represents a significant breakthrough in disease prevention.
What do we know about the vaccine?
The vaccine, Bexsero, is thought to provide 73% protection against meningitis B, which should significantly reduce the number of cases.
The vaccine has been tested in clinical trials involving more than 8,000 people.
In infants, it was found to have similar levels of safety and tolerability as other routine childhood vaccines. The most commonly reported side effects were:
It is thought that the vaccine will become available on the NHS in the autumn.
Links To The Headlines
Meningitis B vaccine added to UK child immunisation scheme. The Guardian, March 29 2015
Now babies WILL get £20 meningitis jab. After year-long row over cost, NHS gives it the nod. Mail Online, March 30 2015
Meningitis B vaccine deal agreed. BBC News, March 30 2015
Every baby to be vaccinated against meningitis B in world first protection programme. Daily Express, March 30 2015
Links To Science