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GPs to begin infant Men B vaccinations from September

GPs in England and Scotland will be sent guidance on beginning vaccinating babies against meningitis B from September this year, and students from August.

DH guidance says that GP practices will offer the MenB vaccine alongside other routine infant vaccines, and doctors should contact parents in the usual way.

GPs will also begin inviting new students for the Men ACWY vaccine in August, the DH said.

The announcement follows health secretary Jeremy Hunt’s deal with British vaccine manufacturer GlaxoSmithKline in March to add MenB vaccine Bexsero to the childhood immunisation programme.

Government advisors on the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation had recommended the vaccine be introduced to the infant schedule last year – but only if it could be bought at a low enough price for a national programme to be cost effective.

With the pricing now agreed, the DH has announced that the infant Men B immunisation programme will be rolled out from 1 September in England.

The Scottish Government has confirmed that the programme, and the same timescale, will also apply in Scotland.

The vaccine will be offered for babies starting at two months of age, followed by another dose at four months and a booster dose at 12 months. There will also be a limited catch-up programme for infants who are due their three- and four-month vaccinations in September.

At the same time, GPs will invite new students to come in for the Men ACWY vaccine programme, which protects against four different types of meningitis, from August in England and Scotland.

The vaccine is particularly important for older students because they are at the highest risk of infection because of close contact in shared accommodation, such as university halls of residence.

Figures showed a rise in cases of meningococcal W disease from 22 in 2009 to 117 last year.

GPs and schools will receive information and guidance in the coming weeks about the new arrangements regarding both immunisation programmes, says the DH.

Public health minister Jane Ellison said: ‘The nationwide MenB programme will mean that England leads the world in offering children protection from this devastating disease.’

Chief executive of charity Meningitis Now, Sue David, said: ‘We’re delighted that yet another milestone in the journey to introduce these vaccines and protect our newborn babies and young people from the devastation meningitis causes has been reached – these measures will start to save lives straight away and for years to come.’

Public Health England, NHS England and NHS Employers developed both immunisation programmes.

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