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New stocks of meningitis B jab being sent to clinics after global shortage

Published 16/05/2016

GlaxoSmithKline said new stocks of the jab Bexsero would be available
GlaxoSmithKline said new stocks of the jab Bexsero would be available

New stocks of the meningitis B jab are being sent to private clinics so parents can get their children vaccinated following a global shortage.

A spokeswoman for GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) confirmed new stocks of the jab Bexsero would be available from the start of June.

Thousands of parents whose children missed out on the NHS programme have been trying to get hold of the vaccine privately.

But a global shortage meant the jab has been unavailable since the start of the year. The NHS programme for newborns has been unaffected.

The spokeswoman said: "We are pleased to confirm that the constraints that impacted UK supplies of the meningitis B vaccine, Bexsero, during the first half of 2016 have now eased and we have advised private clinics that they can start new courses of vaccination for patients, commencing the beginning of June.

"We are aware that many private clinics have waiting lists for parents who wish to have their child vaccinated against meningitis B. Over the coming months, we will work closely with these clinics to ensure that they have sufficient supply to meet current demand."

Earlier this year, hundreds of thousands of people signed a petition for Bexsero to be given to all children on the NHS, or at least those up to age 11.

It gathered momentum following the death of two-year-old Faye Burdett on Valentine's Day.

Her mother Jenny shared pictures of her daughter just before her death on social media and said the family had endured "a pain you cannot describe".

The plight of meningitis sufferers was also raised by ex-England rugby captain Matt Dawson, who told how his two-year-old son Sam battled - and survived - meningitis.

But despite the campaign, the Government rejected calls for Bexsero to be given to all children, saying it would not be a good use of NHS money.

The Bexsero vaccine is available on the NHS for babies aged two months, followed by a second dose at four months and a booster at 12 months.

Liz Brown, chief executive of Meningitis Now, said: "We welcome the return of the men B vaccine to the private sector and that parents will be able to vaccinate their children against this deadly disease.

"It does not, however, ease the concerns of the families who cannot afford to buy this vaccine privately.

"We have argued consistently that the men B vaccine needs to made available to all children via the NHS, a call that was recently supported by over 820,000 people who signed the biggest ever parliamentary petition.

"Whilst the return of stock for the private clinics is good news, we remain concerned that the most vulnerable in our society will remain at risk from men B.

"I would, once again, call upon Jeremy Hunt and his colleagues to vaccinate children up to the age of five as part of the NHS programme and in doing so prevent those who cannot afford the vaccine being discriminated against on the basis of cost."

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