On the pulse: Should the meningitis B vaccination programme be changed to include all children?

More than half a million people have signed a petition calling for the meningitis B vaccine to be given to all children.

Currently, all babies born on or after July 1 2015 are vaccinated against meningitis B for free by the NHS.

However, several high-profile meningitis cases in older children have led to an online petition calling on the government to extend the vaccination programme to all children up to 11 years old – despite the vaccine costing the NHS £75 per jab.

We took to the streets of Wimbledon to ask people what they thought about the news and whether the programme should be changed.

Do you think the Meningitis B vaccination programme should be changed?

YES          NO

79%           21%

Gemma Smith, a 37-year-old housewife from South Wimbledon, felt strongly that the vaccination programme should be available to other young children on the NHS, not just newborns.

She said: “I think it should be available to all small children.

“I think it should be added to the childhood vaccination programme.”

Gemma Smith (2) GEMMA SMITH: Thinks all small children should be eligible for vaccination 

Holly Clark, a 26-year-old customer assistant from Sutton, was concerned that the vaccination programme is limited.

She said: “I do think under fives should be vaccinated. It does seem to be becoming more common.”

David Grindrod, 50, a Geography teacher living on Latimer Road, agreed, although he thought it should be available to even more people, including adults.

He said: “It should be rolled out to everyone, irrespective of cost.”

David Grindrod (2) DAVID GRINDROD: Doesn’t think cost should be an issue

Eleanor Langlois, a 47-year-old mum and administrator from South Wimbledon, also agreed that the programme should be changed.

She said: “In this case, prevention is better than the cure.”

Eleanor Langlois ELEANOR LANGLOIS: ‘Prevention is better than cure’

Akos Erdelyi, a 32-year-old student from South Wimbledon, felt strongly that the vaccination programme should be changed to include more children.

He said: “If money should be spent on something, it should be spent on children.

“I don’t see why if it causes such big health problems, it wouldn’t be supported by the NHS.

“The NHS is the best health service in the world, if it doesn’t provide the vaccine, it’s doing something controversial.”

June Clayton, an 83-year-old pensioner from Morden, agreed that the programme should be available to more children.

Talking about Meningitis B, she said: “It could kill you. It’s a very dangerous disease.”

June Clayton               JUNE CLAYTON: Thinks vaccinations should be available to more children

Another person who felt strongly that the vaccination programme should be changed was 71-year-old Wimbledon resident Mary McGinn, a retired registered general nurse who worked in the NHS for 43 years.

She said: “I’ve got 14 grandchildren, I think they should all be entitled to the free vaccines on the NHS.

“We can give them to other countries but we can’t vaccinate our own children.”

However, not everybody thought the vaccination programme should be changed.

Marjorie Semple, a 61-year-old college principle living in Wimbledon, disagreed that it should be free for more children, arguing that some can afford to pay.

She said: “No [it shouldn’t be free], except for more vulnerable children.

“Teenagers going to university can afford to pay it.”

Simon Draper, a 51-year-old business manager from south west London, also disagreed that the programme should be changed.

He said: “Just keep it for the young kids on the NHS.

“It’s too much money.”

Simon Draper SIMON DRAPER: Thinks it costs too much to vaccinate everyone

Dan Grey, a 34-year-old chief commercial officer from Balham, thought it was a difficult decision.

He said: “It’s a hugely tough call. We all have to decide what we want the NHS to be.

“We can’t expect them to always cover everything. As sad as it is, it becomes a numbers game.”

Image courtesy of Gabi Menashe, with thanks

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