According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), it is estimated that worldwide, meningitis causes more deaths in children under five years old than malaria. The WHO is focusing on a global strategy to defeat meningitis by 2030. One of the ways to reduce the number of cases of meningitis is through vaccination programmes, such as the successful introduction of the Men B vaccine in England.
What is Meningitis B?
Meningitis is an inflammation of the membranes surrounding the brain and the spinal cord. Meningitis can be caused by bacterial or viral infections. Meningococcal group B (Men B) is the most common strain of bacterial meningococcal disease in the UK.
Children under five are most at risk of developing meningitis, and for a number of years there has been a vaccination programme for children which included vaccines against certain types of meningitis. The Men B vaccine is now part of the vaccination programme following a successful campaign by leading meningitis charity, Meningitis Now.
Meningitis Now’s Beat it Now! campaign launched in January 2013 and called for the introduction of the Men B vaccine, Bexsero, to be provided free on the NHS as part of the standard immunisation programme. In September 2015, England became the first country in the world to offer the vaccine to babies through a national vaccination programme.
Men B vaccination - The Results
Since September 2015, the vaccine has been offered to all babies aged two months and four months, and a booster is given at one year. According to the NHS guidance, the vaccine will protect babies against infection by meningococcal group B bacteria which are responsible for more than 90% of meningococcal infections in the UK.
Public Health England figures released in September 2016 showed that the vaccine had halved the number of cases of Men B in children who were eligible for the vaccine within the first 10 months since the vaccine programme was introduced. The early signs of success were good.
In January 2020, Public Health England announced that a new study indicated that the vaccination programme has been successful in reducing the number of cases of Men B in the UK. The study showed that by the third year of the programme, cases of the disease were 62% lower in children who were eligible for at least two doses of the vaccine. Between 2015 and 2018 it was estimated that 277 out of an expected 446 cases were prevented because of the programme.
What does the vaccine protect against?
Vaccination against different types of meningitis, including Meningitis B, is vital to protect as many children as possible from contracting this devastating disease. Meningitis Now has also found that the Men B vaccine offers some protection against other types of meningococcal disease, including Men W. The benefits of the vaccine are reaching further than initially thought.
Permanent injury from meningitis
At Boyes Turner, we have seen first-hand the life-changing impact that meningitis has had upon our clients. The infection can lead to septicaemia, also known as blood poisoning, where the body’s reaction to the infection causes damage to its own tissues and organs. Meningitis and septicaemia are medical emergencies, which if untreated can result in death, organ failure or multiple amputations.
Survivors of meningitis often suffer a lifetime of permanent problems including physical disability, intellectual, psychological and emotional challenges. Even where the survivor avoids the severe disability of amputation, they may be left with less obvious but serious lasting effects from their injury, including issues with memory and concentration, hearing and visual loss, and problems with mobility, coordination and balance. Some people also suffer with seizures due to the damage to the brain that is caused by the infection.
Where negligent delay in medical treatment of meningitis leaves someone with disability or deficits affecting their ability to live independently, get around, communicate, learn or work, Boyes Turner’s meningitis lawyers can recover compensation to ease the financial impact of their disability and help them access care, specialist prostheses and other essential help to rehabilitate and rebuild their life.
If you or someone you care for are disabled as a result of negligent medical treatment for meningitis and you would like to find out more about making a claim, contact our specialist team by email at email@example.com.