The meningitis B petition that was started earlier this month is the most-signed petition in UK Parliamentary history, with almost 800,000 signatures. However, doctors have warned that giving it to all is not cost-effective.
The meningitis B vaccine petition started shortly after two-year-old Faye Burdett’s death on February 14 from the disease. She had shown signs of meningitis B 11 days before her death, and her illness spread extremely quickly. At one point she was given just a one percent chance to live. Her parents made the heartbreaking decision to not give her a life-saving operation that she may have died from, and let her go peacefully. Her mother then gave permission for the photo of the toddler in the hospital bed covered in the meningitis rash to raise awareness.
It has sparked anger from parents that the vaccine is not available to all children under 11. In the UK, it was added to childhood immunisation programs from September 2015, with babies born from July 2015 eligible. There are still thousands of children at risk. Many other parents have since shared their photos to raise awareness and push for the extension for children to receive the vaccine. At the moment, it costs parents around £450 per child.
The petition has become the most signed, with almost 800,000 signatures. It broke the record set by the ban Donald Trump petition, which more than half a million people signed and has since been debated in Parliament.
Due to the bacteria characteristics, it took much longer for the meningitis B vaccine to be created, and took two years for it to be licensed and agreed upon to be added to the infant vaccination program. Infants receive doses at two months, four months and 12 months.
Doctors now say that while the disease is dreadful and seeing children suffer from it is horrific, it is not as easy to just add the vaccine to all booster programs or to vaccinate all children under 11. For the NHS, which is already struggling financially, it would mean looking at the cost-effectiveness of offering the vaccine to all. Experts argue that the limited resources need to be used carefully and effectively. To introduce it to all could mean other funding cut or taxes increased. Parents argue cost should not stop children from being protected, but others say there is still the option of getting the vaccine privately.
The Government has not officially responded to the petition yet. UK people are currently waiting eight days for a date set for debate, which has to take place when a petition reached 100,000 signatures.
Featured image from ITV Twitter feed included above.
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