Meningitis B petition sparks Commons debate

Amy Schofield 15 March 2016

The first of two debates is to be held in Parliament today (Tuesday 15 March) after more than 823,000 people signed a petition calling for the NHS immunisation programme to be widened.

The parents of 2-year-old Faye Burdett, who died in February from meningitis B, along with Lee Booth, who started the petition, are due to speak in Parliament at the first session. They are calling for MPs to extend the meningitis B vaccination programme to all UK children up to the age of 11.

The vaccine is currently offered routinely to infants at the age of two months, with a further dose at four months and a booster at 12 months. Officials have advised the government that extending the vaccination programme to older children would not be cost effective for the NHS. 

Lee Booth started the petition after one of his daughters was deemed too old to receive the vaccine. The numbers of people signing the petition soared after Faye Burdett's mother shared pictures of her daughter Faye dying of meningitis B in hospital.

The petition is currently the most signed in parliamentary history.

The Department of Health says that its priority is to vaccinate the children most at risk from meningitis B. Booth argues that it would be more cost effective for the government to vaccinate more children than pay for the cost of treatment for meningitis survivors for many years.

MPs on the Commons health and petitions committees will listen to evidence from parents, charities and government advisers. A further session is to be held next Tuesday.


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