Why I Paid for the Meningitis B Vaccine
As a new parent, there are a few words that strike me with fear. One which absolutely makes my heart race with fear is “meningitis”. If you’ve been following the news over the past couple of years then you will know that there had been a call to introduce a new vaccine for meningitis b on to the NHS immunisation program. Until I had the little man, I can’t say I’d ever given meningitis much thought. I do recall my mum worrying about it though! But since b came along, the thought of meningitis has always been with me. Every high temperature he’s had, I’d fear there’d also be a rash. Every rash we encountered – was this it? Was it the type of rash that could be meningitis? There was many a time I’d get a glass out to double double check.
So when I started hearing more on the news about the meningitis b vaccine, I started doing more and more googling. I know it isn’t always a good thing but at this particular time, 2014, a little girl, Harmonie-Rose, similar in age to b too, had lost all four limbs to meningitis. This story was close to home and featured on our local news. I couldn’t stop thinking about Harmonie-Rose and what she and her family had been through – were going through – and are still going through today. If there was some way I could protect my son, why wouldn’t I?
All the Questions
And so I started searching for answers to my questions. Was the vaccine safe? Was it not included in the NHS immunisation schedule simply because of the cost or because there were risk factors which the public weren’t being told about? How could I be sure that the info I was reading was reputable, true and could be trusted? Would it be released by the NHS and if so, when? And would there be a catch up for toddlers?
To Vaccinate or Not to Vaccinate…
I started trying to answer my questions by reading a lot of websites such as the NHS and the Meningitis.org website. It seemed unanimous that the impact of meningitis can be devastating. And it was clear that meningococcal meningitis and septicaemia are still the main cause of death in children under 5 years in the UK. That statistic alone seems absolutely crazy in today’s world – but then a lot of crazy stuff goes on all the time.
So to get b vaccinated or not? I know vaccinations are a very emotive subject for many but for me, it was clear cut. If I could protect b from this awful disease then what was I waiting for? I finally came to the conclusion that yes, I would pay to have my son privately immunised with the menB vaccine.
No Catch Up
Not long after we had the vaccination, it was brought out onto the NHS. There was no catch up program for kids born before 1 May 2015 though so I knew we’d have had to pay privately anyway. If you have considered having your child vaccinated privately then you will know the cost is not cheap. We paid £250 for two vaccinations (£125 for each vaccination) and I am still trying to figure out if we need a third. We had a bit of a mix up in Boots and after checking the info on the NHS website, I don’t believe we do need another booster. I’m going to check though as I don’t fancy missing it and having to fork out for a whole new round of vaccinations.
There’s been a lot of debate too, as to whether the catch up should be offered free of charge. In a perfect world, of course it should be offered to every single child but I know it isn’t that simple and I knew I didn’t want to wait and see. If you spread the cost of the two jabs over the year, it costs just over twenty quid a month. Less than a mobile phone contract these days.
In terms of side effects, b was fine. He did get a mild fever but nothing some Calpol couldn’t take care of. His arm was slightly swollen and red for a few days but it didn’t overly bother him.
What are your thoughts on the MenB vaccine? Is it something you’ve considered getting for your child? Or perhaps your child was born inside of the immunisation schedule window. What have your experiences been?
Note: This post is purely a write up of my experiences, thoughts and opinions surrounding MenB and the vaccination. The post was written inline with Meningitis Awareness Week (19th – 25th September) and is not intended to cause fierce debate in the comments. A lot of the background info can be found online at NHS and Meningitis.org.