Meningitis vaccine 'to be on NHS'
A vaccine against deadly disease meningitis B will be made available free on the NHS, it has been reported.
The Bexsero treatment was licensed in Europe in January but the health service was advised against adopting it due to a lack of evidence of its effectiveness.
According to the Independent, the Department of Health is set to announce tomorrow that the recommendation has been reversed.
Meningitis B, which is most common in children under five-years-old, and in particular in babies under the age of one, is a highly aggressive strain of bacterial meningitis.
It infects the protective membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord and can cause severe brain damage, septicaemia or even death.
Of the estimated 1,870 cases of meningitis B each year in the UK around one in 10 people affected will die and one in every three will be left with debilitating after-effects such as loss of limbs or brain damage, according to campaigners.
Fearful parents have turned to private clinicians to have their children vaccinated at an average cost of £300, the newspaper reported.
The Meningitis Now charity has campaigned for the Bexsero vaccine to be available on the NHS in the hope of saving thousands of lives and sparing many from life-changing after-effects.
Around 200 scientists and researchers backed a petition last month calling meningitis and meningococcal disease "a parent's greatest fear" and calling for swift reappraisal of the recommendation made by the independent Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), which advises the Government on vaccinations.
According to the Independent, sources close to Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said that the JCVI had noted the criticisms of its decision by leading medical researchers and physicians and had now reversed its conclusion that the vaccine was not cost-effective.
The Department of Health refused to comment.