Ulster Unionist Party Health Spokesperson Jo-Anne Dobson MLA has welcomed a long overdue agreement between the UK Government and a leading drug manufacturer in regards to the roll-out of a vaccine against meningitis B.
The Upper Bann MLA said;
“Meningitis is disease that even its mention strikes fear in the heart of families. It can kill in a matter of hours and babies and young people are all especially susceptible to it. Meningitis B is a particularly cruel illness which kills 1 in 10 people who contract it and leaves one in four survivors with life changing effects such as brain damage or a loss of limbs.
“The discovery of a vaccine that tests confirmed offered almost 75% protection against the disease was a major breakthrough. Unfortunately however, after years of wrangling, the decision to vaccinate young babies has only now been finally settled.
“Whilst I appreciate negotiations were necessary, the delay of the UK’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation to first of recommend the vaccine for adoption and then the subsequent setbacks in regards to confirming costs with drugs companies may well have proved devastating for some families.
“The progress on the vaccine would not have been possible if it were not for the sheer determination of campaigners across the UK. In particular I would pay tribute to local Donaghcloney couple Lana and Karl Wells, whose son Leo was tragically taken by the disease aged only 5 months. Not only did the Wells’ raise over £40,000 for research into this devastating disease, they assisted in collecting thousands of signatures across Upper Bann calling for the immediate introduction of the vaccine.
“This vaccine will not bring little Leo back but I hope that thanks in part to Lana and Karl’s efforts, other families will not have to go through the heartbreak of losing a child to the preventable disease.”