THE dad of a teenager who died from meningitis has welcomed the news that a life-saving vaccine is a step closer.
Glenn Robinson died aged just 16 after contracting the meningococcal septicaemia strain of the brain disease in 1997.
The promising cricketer’s death left his family devastated, but they soon set up an appeal fund in his memory to raise cash for research into the illness.
Now, the European Medicines Agency has issued a “positive opinion” about a vaccine, called Bexsero, which protects against meningococcal group B disease, known as MenB.
MenB, the most common strain of meningitis, is responsible for an average of more than 1,800 cases across the UK each year, mostly in children.
About one in 10 of those affected will die, and a further one in 10 survivors will be left with serious after-effects, such as limb amputations, deafness, blindness, and brain damage.
Glenn’s dad Ken, of Newbottle, Houghton, who earlier this year became an ambassador for Meningitis Research Foundation (MRF), said: “This is fantastic news not only for myself but the other families who have suffered as well as the scientists and researchers who have been waiting for this.
“It’s going to take about 90 days before it gets the licence and then it has to go to the Government for funding, but it’s a major step forward.”
Ken, a grandad-of-five who is also dad to Andrew and Stephen, now spends time giving talks to schoolchildren on the dangers of meningitis and how to spot symptoms early.
“Glenn may still be here if the vaccine was around then,” added Ken, 67.
“But I just think of the fact that I have five grandchildren now and this should be there for them if they are ever to be affected by meningitis.”
Chris Head, chief executive of MRF added: “Once the MenB vaccine is licensed, it is essential that Government give it full consideration as soon as possible, especially given the shocking lifetime costs to people who survive MenB and are left with serious, life-long disabilities.
“We must not allow children to die from this disease if it can be prevented.”
The European commission will have to license the vaccine before any government in Europe can introduce it.
The Government’s advisory joint committee on vaccination and immunisation will then have to approve it for use in the UK.