A mother from Northampton whose son died after he contracted meningitis is celebrating the roll out of a lifesaving vaccine for a strain of the deadly disease.
Lesley Tanton, of Flore, a community ambassador for Meningitis Now, has supported the charity’s Beat it Now! campaign to get the ground-breaking vaccine introduced free on the NHS.
From September 1 the UK will be the first country in the world to offer its newborn babies the new vaccine Bexsero via a national health service.
Ms Tanton said: “I’m thrilled that we now have this vaccine being used to protect our newborn babies.
“So many lives and so much misery will now be spared.
“I know only too well how cruel this disease can be and I don’t want other local families to go through what we have.”
Lesley and her husband, John, lost their 14-year-old son Mark in September 2010, after he contracted meningitis. They have supported Meningitis Now since then and a Forever Fund set up in Mark’s memory has raised over £35,000 so far.
Lesley ran the Great North Run in 2013 to mark the third anniversary of Mark’s death and also organised a Santa Run last December to raise awareness and funds.
She said: “Meningitis is like a thunderbolt. It comes straight out of the blue and changes the lives of those left behind. Mark was the picture of health – to think an infection would strike him down as quickly as it did is just awful.
“It’s important to raise awareness of meningitis and to continue to fund research to develop existing and new vaccines for all strains.”
The vaccine has been welcomed by Meningitis Now chief executive Sue Davie, who said: “We’re delighted to reach this milestone - it’s a tribute to our supporters’ selfless and tireless efforts.
“However, we can’t lose sight of the fact that for many the roll out comes too late. We’re here for them for as long as they need us.”
The charity has vowed to continue its campaigning to see the Men B vaccine extended to other at risk groups.
The infant Men B immunisation programme will be available for two month olds, with another dose at four months and booster at 12 months.
There is also a limited catch-up programme for babies due their three and four-month vaccinations in September.
For more information, visit www.MeningitisNow.org.