More than 300,000 people have signed a petition to bring the meningitis B vaccine out for all children under 11 years of age, after a viral photo of a deceased two-year-old girl was shared on Facebook. Faye Burdett, from the UK, died after contracting the disease 11 days earlier.
A vaccine against the deadliest form of meningitis is now available as part of the vaccination program in the United Kingdom. It was made available from September 2015 but only to babies. According to the official NHS website, children will receive the meningococcal B vaccination at two months and then another dose at four months. There is then a booster shot available at 12 months.
— The Independent (@Independent) February 17, 2016
It is not yet available on the UK health system for older children, despite this version of the disease being the most common. It is the reason for 90 percent of meningococcal infections, which leads to meningitis and septicaemia.
Faye caught the infection at the beginning of February this year, and was taken to Accident & Emergency due to a rash just on her forehead. Her heart stopped on the way to Evelina Children’s Hospital, where she was being transferred to for extra care, according to the BBC. She was revived, but given a one percent chance of survival. When she proved the doctors wrong, it looked like she was fighting the disease but sepsis had set in.
— Kent News (@HeartKentNews) February 17, 2016
— BBC Radio 5 live (@bbc5live) February 18, 2016
She needed a full leg and one arm amputated, and the family had to make the choice of an operation she might die from or to allow her to die in peace; the family chose the latter.
The parents chose to share the photos to raise awareness of just how dangerous meningitis B is. It also helped to spark fury that the vaccination is not available to older children, who are still just as at risk as younger ones. Meningitis Now CEO Sue Davie says that rolling out the vaccine to younger children has been a “momentous achievement,” but now it needs to be rolled out to others. Too many older children and adults are at risk. She would at least like it to be available to groups who are most at risk.
“Although the introduction of the Men B vaccine on the childhood immunisation scheme for young babies was a momentous achievement, saving thousands of lives, there are still so many, like Faye, left unprotected. We continue to campaign to see the Men B vaccine rolled out, particularly to at-risk groups, to insure a future where no-one in the UK loses their life to meningitis.”
England became the first country to protect babies from the disease, with other parts of the UK following suit. Other countries have now called for the vaccination to be added. Children outside of the vaccination period can get the meningitis B vaccine, but it costs £450. This is a small cost for the risk of life, but many parents say they should not have to pay this money to protect their children from a disease that is so common. There are 1,200 cases in the UK alone, and one in 10 will die. It can cause loss of limbs, deafness and many other health problems, but is treatable if caught early.
— Birmingham Mail (@birminghammail) February 18, 2016
Rugby star Matt Dawson describes ‘hell’ of son fighting meningitis B https://t.co/DjHNUeMqzE
— Metro (@MetroUK) February 18, 2016
Former rugby player Matt Dawson has called for the vaccine to be made available, after his 2-year-old son was diagnosed with meningitis B. He said his family went through “two weeks of hell” as Sam went through treatment at Great Ormond Street Hospital. The former London Wasps player now urges others to read and sign the petition.
Government petitions that gain more than 100,000 signatures must be discussed within the UK Parliament. However, more people are encouraged to sign to show the government just how important this is. So far, more than 450,000 people have signed the petition within just a day of the photo going viral on social media. It shows just how important the meningitis B vaccine is to parents in the United Kingdom.
[Image from Pixabay]