Family calls for new vaccine to be used

John and Lesley Tanton.
John and Lesley Tanton.

The family of a youngster who died from a rare form of meningitis has called for a revolutionary vaccine to be introduced.

Lesley and John Tanton, from Flore, lost their 14 year old son Mark to meningococcal meningitis in September 2010.

They are supporting a campaign by Meningitis Now to provide young children with the new vaccine for meningitis B.

Lesley said: “ It’s high time that this vaccine is included in the childhood immunisation schedule. Delays cost lives. I’m deeply concerned this vaccine will fall off the radar in the coming months, when it should be introduced immediately.”

Following on from Mark’s death, his parents have organised a large number of fundraising events for Meningitis UK, which raises awareness of the illness. Last Thursday saw the second anniversary of the UK’s first vaccine for Meningitis B, the most common cause of bacterial meningitis, receiving its EU licence to prove it is safe and effective.

Last March, the Government agreed that the vaccine would be given free to babies and infants on the NHS, subject to price negotiations with manufacturer Novartis.

Negotiations began in August, but have not concluded.

Meningitis Now figures highlight that within the two years since the vaccine was licenced 24 UK children under-one – one a month – could have died of the aggressive disease. One in three youngsters who have the illness will suffer from limb loss, brain damage, epilepsy, deafness and blindness.

Meningitis Now founder Steve Dayman said: “I have waited half my life for this vaccine – it’s a watershed moment in the fight to eradicate the deadly disease. Now is the time to act to save our children.”