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Mother of meningitis victim urges authorities to back new vaccine
THE mother of a little girl who lost all the fingers on one hand to meningitis has urged the authorities to back a new vaccine.
Melinda Lancaster, 27, who lives in Catterick Garrison with her Royal Engineer husband, Simon, 25, said it was "crazy" to let cost stand in the way of using a new vaccine for Meningococcal B infection.
Speaking at the start of Meningitis Awareness Week (September 16-22) Mrs Lancaster urged people to write to their MPs to ask them to put pressure on the Government to back the new vaccine.
In July the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, known as the JCVI, came to the conclusion that the new vaccine for meningitis B, called Bexsero, was not cost-effective.
This triggered a campaign by the Meningitis Research Foundation to reverse the decision - a campaign which is backed by Mr and Mrs Lancaster.
Children are routinely vaccinated against meningitis C but until now no effective vaccine for meningitis B has been available.
Mrs Lancaster, whose daughter became desperately ill with meningitis and septicaemia at just 10 months, said: "It costs the Government a lot more to care for people who are affected by meningitis. At one stage Amelia was treated with a drug which cost £1,000 a time. It is such a false economy."
The family were living in Oxfordshire when Amelia was taken very ill after a morning nap.
It was the speed of the illness that horrified Mrs Lancaster.
"She was fine in the morning but she was desperately ill by the evening,"she added.
Doctors initially warned the family that the little girl wouldnt make it past the first 24 hours.
"Despite this, she pulled through and we spent two months by her hospital bed while she recovered," said Mrs Lancaster.
"They thought she would lose both her legs and one arm below the elbow but they managed to save everything apart from her fingers," said Mrs Lancaster, who has another daughter, Sophie, aged two.
Amelia has just started at Wavell School in Catterick Garrison and her mother hopes she will make lots of new friends.
"I hope they will accept that shes a little different," she added.
Chris Head, chief executive of the Meningitis Research Foundation, said they were "extremely disappointed" at the decision not to back the new vaccine but were "campaigning hard" for a change of heart.
The JCVI is due to meet again on October 2.
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