Meningitis B symptoms for parents to look out for - before new vaccine arrives in the UK

Kim Hookem-Smith
Yahoo Lifestyle
26 February 2013

A vaccine for deadly meningitis B has been approved in the UK for the first time.

Approved in January, the vaccine adds to the A, C, W-135, Y3 strains we can already immunise against.

But though it's now authorised by the European Commission, that doesn't mean it's automatically available for children in the UK.

[Related: The new meningitis B vaccine explained]

In fact, the NHS won't make a decision on whether to stock the vaccine until at least this June. So in the meantime, meningitis B remains a threat. Every year it there are more than 1,800 cases and it is an aggressive form of the illness that can cause death, brain damage and lifelong disability.

We asked Doctor Nelly Ninis from St Mary's Hospital in London to explain the symptoms of this serious illness and give advise for parents on what to do if they're concerned their child could have caught meningitis B.

We also hear from mum Mette Mitchell, whose daughter contracted meningitis B as a young child, and how she knew it was more than a normal childhood illness.

The NHS will make a decision about whether the vaccine will be added to the raft of childhood inoculations given as standard to babies in the UK or whether it will only be offered to groups considered at risk. The third option is that it may only be available privately.

[Related: Mobile phone app saves girl with meningitis]

The vaccine is for babies aged two months and over and has been found to have few side effects, in line with similar vaccinations already offered in the UK.