Wales

Meningitis B vaccine agreed for babies in Wales

Vaccination Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption Three doses of the vaccine will be given to babies

A vaccine for meningitis B will be made available for all babies in Wales, the Welsh government has confirmed.

It follows a deal made by the UK government on behalf of the devolved governments with the drug manufacturer GlaxoSmithKline.

Government advisers said in 2014 that every child over two months old should be given the vaccine but negotiations over costs delayed the process.

Welsh ministers plan to introduce it "as soon as practicable."

The drug will now be added to the national childhood immunisation scheme, meaning babies will receive the first vaccine at two months old, followed by two further doses.

Long-term problems

Meningitis B is a bacterial infection that particularly affects children under the age of one. It commonly affects children under five years of age and is also common among teenagers aged 15-19.

There are about 1,870 cases of meningitis B each year in the UK and it is fatal about 10% of the time.

About one in four of those who survive is left with long-term problems, such as amputation, deafness, epilepsy and learning difficulties.

After announcing the deal, UK Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said the vaccine will be available on the NHS "this year".

A Welsh government spokesman added: "The Welsh government has committed to being included in the UK-wide procurement for the vaccine, and to making the vaccination available in Wales as soon as practicable."


What is meningitis?

  • Meningitis is an infection of the meninges - the membrane that surrounds the brain and spinal cord
  • Meningococcal bacteria are common and carried harmlessly in the nose or throat by about one in 10 people
  • They are passed on through close contact
  • Anyone can get meningitis but babies and young children are most vulnerable
  • Symptoms include a high fever with cold hands and feet, agitation, confusion, vomiting and headaches

Q&A: Meningitis B vaccine


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