IT is the decision that Ken Robinson has been waiting almost two decades for.
The news that a vaccine against the deadly Meningococcal B (MenB) strain of meningitis will be given to babies on the NHS, is a victory for a campaign he has waged tirelessly.
Ken’s son Glenn was aged just 16 when he died after contracting the killer illness back in 1997.
Ken has since raised an incredible £80,000 to help the Meningitis Research Foundation (MRF), so that other lives are not lost.
The Echo reported last month that campaigners like Ken were putting pressure on the Government to implement the vaccine as part of the childhood immunisation programme, almost one year after it was recommended safe to use.
Contracting MenB leads to death in 10 per cent of all cases and to long-term after effects in a further 36 per cent.
This is what we’ve been wanting for years and years. It’s mega news.Ken Robinson
Now, finally, the NHS has struck a deal meaning the vaccine will be introduced soon to all newborns, protecting them in the process.
Speaking at his Newbottle home, Ken, 70, who is also an ambassador the MRF said: “This is what we’ve been wanting for years and years. It’s mega news.
“It’s going to take up to about August or September to be accepted on the childhood immunisation programme, and then babies between two and four months will get the vaccine as well as a booster at 12 months.
“This will save lives and little babies will be protected.” The Government made the announcement on what would have been promising cricketer Glenn’s 35th birthday.
“I turned on the news and saw it and couldn’t believe that it was that day that it came out,” added Ken, who says he will continue to fund-raise for the MRF.
“There’s still plenty to do.
“Teenagers are affected by it like Glenn was, and they are most at risk.
“There are children with false legs because of the disease and they still need help. These things all cost money.
“We need to keep on raising awareness too.”
Chris Head, chief executive of Meningitis Research Foundation, said: “MenB has been at the top of this charity’s agenda for decades and we are delighted that vaccinating all babies against this devastating disease is now within sight, cementing the UK’s position as a world leader in meningitis prevention.
“When this vaccine is finally introduced it will save lives and spare countless families the trauma of seeing a loved one die, or become seriously disabled because of MenB.
“The bitter experience of those who have been personally affected has been vital in our campaigning for this vaccine, demonstrating the compelling case for prevention.
“We pay tribute to them and pledge to continue supporting them.”