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Martlesham Heath: Couple welcome Meningitis B vaccine after losing nine-month-old son to illness

14:46 25 March 2014

In March 2009 Mark and Jenny Smith's nine-month-old baby boy Taylor died of meningitis. Since then they have raised £25,000 in his memory for Meningitis UK. Left to right, Mark Smith, Jennifer Smith.

In March 2009 Mark and Jenny Smith's nine-month-old baby boy Taylor died of meningitis. Since then they have raised £25,000 in his memory for Meningitis UK. Left to right, Mark Smith, Jennifer Smith.

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A couple whose baby boy died from meningitis have welcomed the news that a life-saving vaccine is set to be introduced.

Taylor Westley-Smith, who died from meningitis in 2009.Taylor Westley-Smith, who died from meningitis in 2009.

Mark and Jennifer Smith, who live in Martlesham Heath, lost their nine-month-old son Taylor to Meningitis B in March 2009.

He was taken to an out-of-hours clinic but the disease was not initially diagnosed and Taylor died in his cot that night.

The pair have welcomed an announcement from the Department of Health to introduce the meningococcal B (MenB) vaccine into the childhood vaccination programme.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) says evidence shows that the Bexsero vaccine is effective in preventing the life-threatening infection and should be rolled out, subject to it being made available by the manufacturer at a cost-effective price.

Mrs Smith, who has two other children, Erin and Morgan, said: “The sooner they start immunising babies, the sooner they will start saving lives.

“It’s too late for us but it’s only the vaccine that’s going to prevent other babies from developing Meningitis B.

“Babies and young children are still going to get the infection and the vaccine is not 100% but it will reduce the number of cases there are at the moment.

“It’s a massively positive step in the right direction and the sooner the price is agreed the quicker the vaccine can be put in production.”

The Department of Health will start negotiations with Novartis, which produces the only licensed vaccine, as soon as possible.

Professor John Watson, deputy chief medical officer, said: “We will now be working closely with Novartis in the coming months and if negotiations are successful, we hope to work with the other UK health departments to introduce a vaccine to prevent MenB as quickly as possible.

“This would make the UK the first country in the world to implement a nationwide vaccination programme.”

The JCVI has recommended adding the vaccination to the primary childhood programme meaning that, if plans progress, infants will be immunised starting at two months of age.

JCVI chairman Professor Andrew Pollard said: “MenB disproportionately affects babies and young children and can be devastating.

“After very careful consideration, JCVI concluded that use of the new vaccine would reduce cases of meningococcal meningitis and septicaemia and lead to a reduction in deaths, limb amputations and brain injury caused by the disease.”

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