Lifeless and covered in hospital tubes, it was hard not to be moved by the shocking photograph of a young toddler consumed by Meningitis B circling the media earlier this year.
Faye Burdett’s tragic death prompted her parents to bravely speak out about the need for children to be vaccinated against this disease.
Currently only babies aged two to five months are vaccinated under the NHS programme, leading to high demand for private stocks. The government says it isn’t cost effective to roll it out to all children. But how can you put a price on a child’s life?
The private clinics who have an ever-diminishing stock of the precious vaccine certainly can.
I rang up dozens from Manchester to London to get it for William – to be told we’d be put on a waiting list or ring back in June and the cost would be anything from £140 to £500. It is a medical marvel the vaccination exists – but as MenB is still relatively common in babies up to the age of five, the cut-off point for the vaccination seems cruel.
William is now one of the fortunate ones – he had his first jab last week. At £170 per dose and he’ll need two.
You could argue the chances of him contracting MenB are quite slim. And you’d be right. But, as it is now preventable, it’s not a risk I’d like to take.
There will be parents out there who want their children immunised but can’t afford it. Could there be an NHS subsidy to help families with a toddler who missed the cut-off?
I can’t tell you how relieved I was he is protected against MenB. I just wish all parents – no matter their incomes – could feel that same relief.