By James Gallagher Health editor, BBC News website
24 minutes ago
- From the section Health
Offering the meningitis B vaccine to all children is “not cost effective” and would be a waste of NHS money, the government says.
Public support for extending the vaccine grew after the mother of two-year-old Faye Burnett shared pictures of her dying from the infection.
The jab is offered to children in their first year of life.
But more than 800,000 people signed a petition for it to be given to all children under 11.
Faye, from Maidstone, died on Valentine’s Day after fighting the infection for 11 days. Her mother Jenny said the family had endured “a pain you cannot describe”.
And soon after ex-England rugby captain Matt Dawson talked about how his two-year-old son Sam survived meningitis W after “two weeks of hell”.
In response to the most popular petition in parliamentary history, the Department of Health said it was following the expert advise of its Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).
It said: “With this programme, our priority is to protect those children most at risk of Men B, in line with JCVI’s recommendation.
“The NHS budget is a finite resource, it is therefore essential that JCVI’s recommendations are underpinned by evidence of cost-effectiveness.
“Offering the vaccine outside of JCVI’s advice would not be cost effective, and would not therefore represent a good use of NHS resources which should be used to benefit the health and care of the most people possible.”
It added: “When any new immunisation programme is introduced, there has to be a cut-off date to determine eligibility.
“While this is extremely difficult for parents whose children aren’t eligible, there is no other way of establishing new programmes to target those at highest risk without introducing inequalities.”
The UK is the only country in the world to offer the vaccine routinely to children of any age.
It is offered only in the first year of life when infants are most vulnerable to the infection.