Meningitis survivor convinces MP to join vaccine campaign

Sharon Hodgson MP meets meningitis survivor and campaigner Vivienne Bell.
Sharon Hodgson MP meets meningitis survivor and campaigner Vivienne Bell.
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AN MP has vowed to press for a vaccine against meningitis to be made part of routine childhood immunisations after meeting a woman who twice fought the condition.

Washington and Sunderland West MP Sharon Hodgson has teamed up with constituent Vivienne Bell, who was left with permanent disabilities after surviving two battles with the killer brain bug.

I will continue to press for action in parliament, and I am currently awaiting a response from Jeremy Hunt to see if the government will change their current position.

Sharon Hodgson MP

Vivienne, 63, from Washington, first beat the disease in 1983, but it returned in 2008, costing the grandma and mum-of-three both her legs and several fingers.

Sharon has contacted health secretary Jeremy Hunt at former hairdresser Vivienne’s request, to ask why the meningococcal Group B (MenB) vaccine has still not been rolled-out.

The 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.

The pair discussed Vivienne’s experiences at her home in Concord, and Sharon promised to continue to pressure the Government to introduce the vaccine as quickly as possible.

“It was such a pleasure to talk to Vivienne about her campaign,” Sharon said. “Her story is truly incredible, and she is a real credit to our area for what she has done to campaign on this issue.

“Getting this vaccine out to children is something I have pushed for in parliament for a number of years now, and for every day the government doesn’t act we are putting lives at risk.

“I will continue to press for action in Parliament, and I am currently awaiting a response from Jeremy Hunt to see if the Government will change their current position.”

The Meningitis Research Foundation has launched a #WheresOurVaccine petition, which can be signed at www.meningitis.org/wheres-our-vaccine

Its chief executive, Chris Head, said: “We appreciate that the JCVI stated that the vaccine recommendation was subject to a cost-effective price being agreed between the vaccine manufacturer and the DH, but these price negotiations have been ongoing since July 2014 and have stalled.

“The cost-effective price range for this vaccine was published in October last year with an upper limit only just over £20 – a substantial saving on the official NHS list price of £75.

“As both the manufacturer and the government are negotiating within this published cost effective range, we cannot see why an accommodation cannot be reached.”