Don’t gamble with your children’s lives warns meningitis charity boss
Leading meningitis charity Meningitis Now has warned parents not to gamble with their children’s lives after newly released NHS data shows that too many toddlers are not fully vaccinated against the deadly disease.
The charity highlights what appears to be a significant drop off between the number of toddlers receiving their MenB vaccination at 8 and 16 weeks in 2017-18 (92.5%) and those who received the important booster jab at 12 months in 2018-19 (87.8%). This suggests that as many as 100,000 toddlers are being put at a possible increased risk of the disease.
The data for all vaccines release by the NHS showed an overall decline of between 0.3% and 1.4% over a three year period.
With the 8 and 16-week vaccinations for babies being defined as ‘primer’ vaccinations – designed to prime-pump an infant’s immune system – the jab at 12 months plays a critical role in further boosting protection around the time when many parents return to work following maternity leave and place their toddlers in nursery and playgroup settings.
Meningitis Now CEO Dr Tom Nutt said: “This drop off rate is significant and very worrying, particularly given that this is a new vaccine and we don’t yet know how long protection will last. Like other parents, I appreciate that life can easily get in the way and that routine vaccines can sometimes seem less than a priority or be easily forgotten.
“The move to place toddlers into childcare settings where they will be joined by many other children for the first time is typically an anxious time for parents, and one that really doesn’t need to fuelled by concerns over the risks of meningitis.
“I would therefore urge all parents whose children haven’t been given the MenB booster to get it as a priority.
“Where parents have a concern over vaccine safety, which may lead to hesitation to get vaccinated or take up the MenB booster, I would encourage them not to gamble with their child’s life. If in doubt, people should talk their GP, or call Meningitis Now, and make their decisions based on sound scientific fact and not misinformation on social media or heresay”.
Advice from the NHS supports the charity’s guidance encouraging parents where their child has not been MenB vaccinated or missed the MenB booster to call their surgery and make an appointment as soon as possible.