Updated: Monday, 24th September 2018 @ 5:48am

Sale mum of meningitis survivor says NHS vaccine cheaper than son's £3m care

Sale mum of meningitis survivor says NHS vaccine cheaper than son's £3m care

| By Joanne Webb

A Manchester mum is joining the #WheresOurVaccine meningitis campaign and urging the government to invest and ‘save money’ – as her own son’s battle against the terrible disease has cost a whopping £3million.

The life-saving vaccine is currently available privately, but Manchester meningitis ambassador Christine Etheridge, whose son Ben contracted the disease in 2004 when he was just three, believes it should be provided by the NHS.

The Meningitis Research Foundation launched a national campaign to put pressure on health minister Jeremy Hunt to get the meningococcal Group B (MenB) vaccine available for free.

Fortunately Christine’s son Ben survived and is now 14. In a couple of days it will be 11 years since he was first diagnosed.

With growth plates in both legs and requiring on-going treatment until he is at least 20, the total cost of care that Ben has required to overcome the disease will be around £3million.

Christine, from Sale, believes that with such a huge cost of care, the government would save money by investing in the vaccine.

“If you compare the cost of treatment to the price of a vaccine it’s a lot more, especially for some who have to have artificial limbs and on-going treatment,” she said.

#WHERESOURVACCINE: Christine is now Manchester's ambassador for Meningitis Research Foundation

And now the foundation’s Manchester ambassador Christine has written to her MP Graham Brady to question why the vaccine has still not been implemented.

Christine said: “A lot of people think MenB only affects babies and children but it doesn’t. There are a lot more teenagers dying from it as the symptoms can look like a hangover.

“It is so easy to go online and get behind the petition. This is about saving lives.”

The vaccine is currently available privately, but according to the Meningitis Research Foundation the price is ‘too-high’ for many cash-strapped families.

MenB has been the single largest cause of meningitis in the UK for decades and kills 10% of those affected. A third of the survivors suffer from long-term after effects such as amputations, brain damage and hearing loss.

The vaccine took years of research to develop and in March 2014 it was recommended by the Joint Committee for Vaccination and Immunisation for routine use in babies aged two, four and 12 months.

Price negotiations between the government and a manufacturer began in July but since then implementation of the vaccine has stalled.

Chris Head, Chief Executive of the Meningitis Research Foundation, said: “We realise that there are many pressures on NHS budgets but this government claims to want people to be fit for life throughout their life.

“Surely the answer is to protect future generations by vaccinating to prevent disease.”

Department of Health surveys have shown that meningitis is the most feared illness by the parents of young children in our country and each year it costs the NHS millions of pounds in medical litigation.

The Meningitis Research Foundation estimates that there are around 3,200 cases of meningitis and septicaemia every year in the UK.

They are easily mistaken for milder illnesses but can kill within hours or may cause serious, life-long disabilities.

To sign the #WheresOurVaccine petition click here.