Meningitis survivor calls for vaccine roll-out

Vaccine call: Vivienne Bell, pictured with husband Richard, lost both legs and her fingers to meningitis.
Vaccine call: Vivienne Bell, pictured with husband Richard, lost both legs and her fingers to meningitis.
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A MENINGITIS survivor is calling for a life-saving vaccine to be given to children almost a year after a government committee said it should be.

Vivienne Bell, 63, from Concord, Washington, beat the disease in 1983, only for it to return and almost kill her in 2008.

I met Vivienne today to discuss this issue in more detail and to see what else we can do to take this issue further.

Washington and Sunderland West MP Sharon Hodgson

Now she says the introduction of the meningococcal Group B (MenB) vaccine is long overdue.

A vaccine was recommended by the Joint Committee for Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) on March 21, last year, to be routinely given to children in the UK, but almost a year on there are no signs that the vaccine will become part of the childhood immunisation programme.

Meanwhile cases of MenB continue to occur and babies, children and adults are dying and being badly disabled as a result, according to the Meningitis Research Foundation (MRF), which has launched its #WheresOurVaccine petition at www.meningitis.org/wheres-our-vaccine

Now grandma and mum-of-three Vivienne, who lost both her legs below the knee and the use of one hand after the cruel disease robbed her of her fingers, has written to her MP, Sharon Hodgson, to ask her to ask health secretary Jeremy Hunt why it is taking so long.

“I am supporting the #WheresOurVaccine campaign because I have been supporting MRF since contracting meningococcal septicaemia in May 2008,” the former hairdresser said. “The doctor said I was 97 per cent dead when I was taken to hospital, I was in a coma for 12 weeks and Intensive Care for 13 weeks and as a result I lost both legs from the knee down as well as my fingers and the use of one hand.”

Mrs Hodgson said: “I have known about this campaign for a while now, and over the last few years I pushed for the introduction of this vaccine in the House of Commons and hosted receptions over the last few years in Parliament to raise awareness amongst MPs.

“So when Vivienne got in touch with me I was very pleased to be able to help her press the Government into introducing it, in order to save lives up and down the country.

“This disease is so horrible as it can particularly effect children and young people, and can leave them with life-long disabilities or even result in their deaths.

“I have written to Jeremy Hunt asking why it is taking so long for this vaccine to be introduced, and I met Vivienne today to discuss this issue in more detail and to see what else we can do to take this issue further.

“We all know the NHS has been under pressure in recent years, but investing in vaccines like this are crucial to saving lives, and the more time that is wasted before a decision is made the more people are being put at risk.”