GPs across the UK are set to start vaccinating babies against meningitis B this year, after the Government announced it had agreed a price for the vaccine with manufacturer GlaxoSmithKline.
The Department of Health said the Men B vaccine, Bexsero, is likely to be added to the routine infant immunisation schedule ‘from September’.
Government advisors on the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) recommended the vaccine be introduced to the infant schedule last year – but only if the vaccine could be bought at a low enough price for a national programme to be cost-effective.
The JCVI decision marked a U-turn after the committee had previously ruled just six months earlier that the vaccine would not be cost-effective at any price.
The Men B vaccine will be given to babies at age two, four and 12 months.
GP leaders have previously welcomed the introduction of the vaccine but also warned the additional workload for GPs from adding this to an already crowded schedule would have to be considered carefully.
Health secretary Jeremy Hunt said: ‘I am very proud that we will be the first country in the world to have a nationwide MenB vaccination programme, helping to protect our children from a devastating disease.
‘MenB can be severely disabling or fatal, especially in babies and young children. Losing a child is every parent’s worst nightmare so I am delighted that we have reached an agreement with GSK to supply the vaccine.’
Sue Davie, Chief Executive of Meningitis Now said: ‘This is the news we have been waiting for. To know that babies will be protected against MenB is fantastic and another great step forward in our fight against meningitis.
‘Families for whom this comes too late, and for whom we will always be here to support, have campaigned tirelessly and selflessly with us to make sure no other families suffer as they have.’