Government should consider extending the Meningitis B vaccine

Fianna Fáil TD for Mayo Lisa Chambers has called on the Health Minister to examine the feasibility of making the meningitis B vaccine available to every child

The HSE has confirmed that there have been 11 cases of meningococcal disease reported to the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) since the last week in December. Three people have died from the disease in that time.

Deputy Chambers commented, “This increase in meningitis is extremely worrying and awareness levels about the disease need to be heightened. Given the fact that three people have died in the past three weeks, I think the time has come for the government to give serious consideration to making the meningitis B vaccine available to all children.

“It is currently accessible for infants aged up to 12 months, but it costs €280 for the two shots required for children over the age of one. This is a substantial cost, especially for parents who have more than one child, and in many cases is probably prohibitive.

“Given the serious, indeed life-threatening nature of the disease, I believe the Health Minister should examine the possibility of providing the vaccine free to all children.

“In relation to the current situation, all children in at-risk areas should be given the vaccine and I am urging the HSE to explore how that could be undertaken. It’s also critical that the HSE moves to boost the take up rates for all meningitis vaccines as it has fallen slightly in recent years.

“These vaccines save lives and it is important that all our children get them”, concluded Deputy Chambers.