A private GP practice in Essex has been forced to close its waiting list for Meningitis B vaccinations for children over the age of 12 months, after a surge in demand from anxious parents.
The Russell and Ridley practice in Billericay was forced to take down its list after being ‘inundated with phone calls from worried parents’, the Brentwood Gazette reported.
GPs have been giving the new Men B jab to infants at age two, four and 12 months, since it was introduced into the routine immunisation schedule last September.
But there has been a call for routine Meningitis B (Men B) vaccinations to be given to all children up to the age of 11.
A parliamentary e-petition – reported to be the most popular one since the system was introduced five years ago – has reached over 750,000 signatures, triggering a debate in the House of Commons.
But Government advisors have ruled it would not be cost-effective to vaccinate older children routinely on the NHS, while short supplies of the vaccine mean it is currently only available for limited use outside this programme.
Dr Maddi Ridley, a GP at the practice, told the Brentwood Gazette: ‘We are having a nightmare with phones and emails at the moment.
‘People are very panicky; you can hear it in their voices.’
Dr Ridley added: ‘A month ago or so, when the vaccine was available, people didn’t have the awareness and the high profile stories have definitely created a bit of a panic.
‘The media has brought it to the front of peoples’ minds whereas they might have considered cost.’
A statement on the practice website said: ‘Due to current global vaccine shortage of Meningitis B vaccine (Bexsero), we regrettably are unable to start any new courses of the vaccination.’
The statement added: ‘We have had to close our waiting list now, so please keep checking in for any updates.’