Meningitis B vaccine becomes a realistic possibility

The European Medicines Agency’s advisory body (CHMP) has adopted a positive opinion for a first of its kind meningococcal group B vaccine.

Meningococcal serogroup B (MenB) is the leading cause of meningitis and septicaemia in the UK; however, currently available vaccines do not offer any broad protection against the illness.

‘Today’s news is the most significant step forward in the fight against meningitis in recent years,’ said Sue Davie, chief executive of the Meningitis Trust. ‘This vaccine (Bexsero) has been highly anticipated as it will protect against the most common cause of bacterial meningitis in the UK.’

Meningitis B is often misdiagnosed, and the potential danger of contracting meningitis B can be seen in its ability to kill in 24 hours or cause serious life-long disabilities. The vaccine will be available for individuals from two months of age and older, which is of great importance as children are most at risk of infection. According to Dr Matthew Snape, consultant in pediatrics and vaccinology at the Oxford Vaccine Group, University of Oxford, ‘A vaccine that is able to reduce the incidence of this disease would be a major advance towards the prevention of childhood meningitis.’

It is believed that the science behind the creation of the meningococcal group B vaccine could be used to develop complex vaccines for other diseases.

However, meningitis B is a particularly difficult strain to create a vaccine for, and it is likely to be a long time before it is made readily available.

Taken from Practice Nursing, published 23 Nov 2012.

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