Delay over new disease vaccine ‘is a disgrace’

Lee and Sam Cooper, their son Alex and his sisters Jorja Page and Tia Collinge
Lee and Sam Cooper, their son Alex and his sisters Jorja Page and Tia Collinge
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A mum whose children were left fighting for their lives after being struck down by meningitis today welcomed a deal which will pave the way to babies being given a new vaccine.

But Samantha Cooper, 31, whose son Alex and daughter Tia both battled with brain bug, said it was a “disgrace” it had taken so long to reach a deal.

Fighting over the price when children have lost their lives or limbs is a disgrace

It has been announced by Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt that all UK babies will soon have access to a vaccine against meningitis B, after a deal with drug manufacturers was done.

The agreement with GlaxoSmithKline will mean the vaccine can be introduced on the NHS “this year”, Mr Hunt said.

Government advisers said in 2014 that every child over two months old should be given the vaccine, but negotiations over costs have delayed this process.

Mr Hunt said it was important to get value for money. But campaigners had repeatedly warned those delays put children’s lives at risk.

And Mrs Cooper, of Addison Road, Fleetwood, said: “Fighting over the price when children have lost their lives or limbs is a disgrace.

“It shouldn’t be down to a private firm to sort it, the Government should have had this sorted a long time ago.

“There have been children a lot less fortunate than mine that have lost their lives or limbs.

“It’s unfair and dangerous for children’s lives with out this vaccine.”

Last December The Gazette revealed how Mrs Cooper’s son was 16-months-old when he was struck down with meningitis.

And seeing little Alex fighting for his life was frighteningly familiar for the mum-of-three, as her eldest daughter, Tia, also contracted the deadly disease years earlier when she was just 22-months-old.

The family said as both children had been immunised against the C strain of the disease, it must have been the B strain.

Bacterial meningitis is an infection of the surface of the brain by bacteria while meningococcal septicaemia occurs when the bacteria in the blood multiply uncontrollably.

The new drug will now be added to the national childhood immunisation scheme, meaning babies will receive the first vaccine at two months old, followed by two more.