A family from Northamptonshire, whose teenage son died of meningitis B, is urging the Government to make a new vaccine available to all children.
The drug, Bexsero, is the first meningitis B vaccine licensed for use in this country and the Meningitis UK charity says it could save thousands of lives, especially among the under-fives, who are most at risk from the disease.
John and Lesley Tanton, from Flore, lost son Mark, a 14-year-old Campion School pupil, when he died from meningitis in 2010, only days after showing any signs he was ill.
Mrs Tanton, 47, said: “We had a healthy, fit young lad and then this devastating illness attacked. It transformed the whole family within a couple of hours and life is never the same again. I’m a practice nurse and used to trying to spot meningitis, so I know it’s incredibly difficult to diagnose as not everyone has the same signs and symptoms.
“Mark didn’t have a rash. In that respect it’s a rogue illness – there’s no typical way of spotting it.
“It’s the rapid onset which can be so devastating. Mark was fine in the morning despite feeling unwell. He was chatting away to us then by 4pm he was unconscious and we never spoke to him again.”
The family is pressing the Government to urgently introduce the vaccine into the Routine Childhood Immunisation Schedule, so children will receive it through the NHS. The last major meningitis vaccine – the pneumococcal vaccine – took five years to be introduced. Mrs Tanton said: “There can be no reason why the Government would not support this vaccine.
“There’s no price you can put on a life. Ministers and MPs have to weigh up whether to introduce this vaccine and they need to put themselves in the shoes of people affected by meningitis and do something which will eradicate it for once and for all.”
To support Meningitis B: Beat it Now, visit www. meningitisuk.org/beatitnow and post a message.