The meningitis B vaccine is available to all children under the age of 12 months but the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation said that there was not enough of the vaccine to develop a catch-up programme. This view was justified by the fact that cases of meningitis B are rarer in older children so the vaccination would not be cost-effective. That key term cost-effective is frequently used in issues surrounding the NHS and it is a significant one as we simply cannot afford to provide a vaccine to low risk members of society which does unfortunately result in the tragic loss of young lives. Although many people are disappointed with the rejection, it is in our best interests to immunise the children who are most at risk. If we decide to immunise those who are at low risk then we may cause a shortage in the vaccine that means at-risk children will not receive the life-saving vaccine. Despite this, the difference in risk between 1 year olds and 2 year olds is rather small and therefore it would make sense to immunise all children under the age of two who have not yet been immunised.
I personally believe that we should promote the use of the vaccine in all children under the age of two as a minimum requirement and then if possible we should extend this to any children who are at higher risk of meningitis B than the general population. I feel that this would help to protect the very vulnerable members of our society. However, I do understand the reasons why the committee has rejected the extension at this moment in time and I do understand that we should prioritise the most at-risk people and then extend this protection if possible after all children under 1 have been immunised.
The implications of this programme in the long-term is significant and will reduce the number of meningitis B cases. I think that this will help to protect the children that are currently unable to be immunised which is clearly positive.
If you have any opinions about this rejection then please comment your opinions so that we can discuss the likely implications for any rejection or acceptance of an extension.