On Monday 25th April Peter spoke on the petition relating to Meningitis B vaccine. Here is Peter’s contribution and subsequent response to the Government decision not to implement the extension of the vaccine
I met Harmonie-Rose the other day, and what a beautiful little girl she is. I do not want to make inappropriate or spurious comparisons, but the swine flu vaccine cost £1 billion, which, despite the criticism, was money well spent. Does the hon. Gentleman agree that a vaccine catch-up programme would also be money well spent?
Here is Peter’s statement following the debate and the news that the Government is not supporting the extension of the Meningitis B Vaccine:
I sympathise profoundly with families who have been affected by Meningitis B, and appreciate the efforts of the campaign organisations and charities that work hard to improve the understanding and awareness of the disease, provide support to sufferers or carry out research.
While the overall number of recorded incidences of Meningitis B has roughly halved over the last decade, Meningitis B remains a real and present threat, and I agree there is still more work to be done.
I pay tribute to Meningitis Now, and the 823,000 people that signed the online petition, which calls for the Meningitis B vaccine to be given to all children, at least up to the age of 11. This is now the most successful online Government petition in parliamentary history. It is right that Members of Parliament were given the opportunity to debate this important issue on 25 April 2016.
As you may be aware, in March 2014 the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), which advises UK health departments on immunisation, recommended that the Meningitis B vaccine be offered to all children at two months old, with booster jabs given at four months and twelve months old.
During the debate on the online petition, the Government reconfirmed its decision to accept the judgement of the JCVI and is subsequently not supporting extending the Meningitis B vaccination to older children. While I respect the recommendation of the independent JCVI, I do not believe the committee is necessarily correct in this instance. I am concerned that lifetime costs are not adequately considered when looking at the cost-effectiveness of drugs and treatments. Indeed, this point has been raised by Professor Andrew Pollard, chair of the JCVI, who suggested the committee “might be underestimating” the lifetime costs.
The vaccination of all new-born babies against Meningitis B from September 2015 is a welcome move that could potentially prevent more than 4,000 cases of the disease over the next decade. The JCVI regularly reviews the evidence relating to all vaccination programmes. If the JCVI does make a recommendation to extend the reach of the Meningitis B vaccine, I can assure you that I would not hesitate in strongly urging the Government to extend the vaccination’s coverage at the earliest opportunity