The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has said that the meningitis B vaccination programme will not be extended to infants below the age of two.
Dr David Elliman, RCPCH (Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health) paediatrician, said:
“The meningococcal B vaccine became part of the routine immunisation programme towards the end of last year. The decision was a difficult one to make as there were a lot of unknowns about the vaccine and, even if limited to under one year olds, it was barely cost effective. We were the first country to introduce this particular vaccine and should be proud that babies can benefit. Lives will be saved and some babies will be spared having lifelong disabilities.
“Earlier this year, the government asked the JCVI to look at whether the vaccine should be given to children between 12 and 24 months old, who were born before the start the programme. The committee agreed that this could be cost effective, but it would probably need to be at a lower vaccine price than for the younger children already receiving the vaccine. However, they felt that there were a number of issues that meant they could not recommend introducing the vaccine for this older group of children. There would be a very short time scale in which to carry out this catch-up programme which would stretch already hard pressed primary care services. But most importantly, it was unlikely that there would be enough vaccine. The JCVI felt that the priority should be to immunise the younger children who were at greatest risk and that nothing should be done to put delivering vaccine to them in jeopardy. They therefore advised against the use of the vaccine in the additional group of children.
“This must have been a very difficult decision for the Committee, but I am sure it is correct under the circumstances.”
Dr David Elliman: “No conflicts.”