A COVENTRY consultant is backing calls for the Government to vaccinate all young children, not just babies, against the deadly B strain of meningitis.
Dr Ravi Gowda, a hospital infectious disease consultant at University Hospital Coventry and Warwickshire, has added his voice to calls across the country to vaccinate all young people against the potentially deadly disease.
While meningitis B can affect people of any age, it is most common in babies and children under five years old – leading Dr Gowda to ask why the vaccination age is capped at 12 months old.
He said: “It’s a devastating disease, and we are losing young lives to something that is completely preventable.
“I think the vaccination should be given to everyone from babies to students; they are all at risk.
“My children were not eligible for the meningitis B vaccine because of their age but I vaccinated them anyway.”
Renewed calls to extend the vaccination age follow the tragic death of two-year-old Faye Burdett from Kent who died after battling the disease for 11 days.
Currently a meningitis B vaccine is available over the NHS for babies, but parents who want to protect older children against the disease have to pay.
A petition urging the Government to roll out the vaccination for all young children has been signed by more than 400,000 people, and will now considered by Parliament for a debate.
Dr Gowda also urged parents to remain vigilant against the symptoms of meningitis in babies – which include refusing to eat, agitation, drowsiness, being floppy or unresponsive, as well as grunting or breathing rapidly or making unusually high-pitched cries or groans.
In adults and older children the recogniseable symptoms – a headache, neck stiffness, nausea and high fever, with or without the tell-tale rash which doesn’t fade when a glass is rolled over it – develop much faster.