Meningitis B vaccine may be added to NHS scheduleThe Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has made a U-turn and recommended that the new meningitis B vaccine (Bexsero) be offered on the NHS providing a cost-effective price for the vaccine can be agreed between the NHS and the manufacturer. This is in stark contrast to the JCVI's previous recommendation in July 2013 when it advised against offering it on the NHS as the vaccine was not considered to be cost-effective at any price. The about turn was probably the result of political pressure and lobbying from (drug company funded) patient groups. The JCVI's reasoning for its change of heart was that it had now included such as things as the loss of quality of life to family members of victims, the cost of litigation against the NHS by meningitis B sufferers or their families and an expectation that the number of cases was likely to increase.
No date has been set, but if the vaccine is added to the NHS childhood immunisation schedule it will be given at 2, 4 and 12 months of age. It will be given along with other routine vaccines despite evidence that this will increase the risk of adverse reactions, especially fever and crying. This is why we recommend giving the vaccine on its own. There will be no catch-up campaign and children over 12 months of age will not be offered the vaccine on the NHS.