http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/247799

Not Enough UK Babies Vaccinated Against The Killer Meningitis

Posted Dec 21, 2007 by Michelle Duffy
It is thought that around 300 children have possibly avoided certain serious illnesses due to a new pneumococcal vaccine which came into use a year ago in England, according to a new report
The vaccine, which came into force 12 months ago, has thought to have saved around 300 children in England from illnesses that would have almost certainly killed them or effected their future development.
The injection has been used on babies around the ages of two and four months old and is said to protect them from fatal diseases such as pneumonia and meningitis. A booster is also available at 13 months old.
The figures have proved that children are being saved from these life threatening illness, ye the numbers of babies actually being vaccinated are still too low. It is guessed that one is every six children are not taking advantage of the jab.
So far, the Health Protection Agency reports that around 86% of babies have now received the jab, yet more children need to take full advantage of it to reduced such harmful childhood illnesses. The government are hoping to take this number up to 95% as soon as possible.
The director of immunisation, Professor David Salisbury has urged parents to take note about having their children vaccinated against these illnesses. He said,
"That about 300 young children have already been saved the trauma of suffering from a major illness like meningitis shows the importance of vaccinating children against serious illness. It is so important for a child to get all their vaccinations and this success story should serve as a reminder to check that your child's vaccines are up to date."
He stated that he was very concerned that parents were not taking vaccination seriously enough and that the message of the dangers of these illness needs to be forced further. He said,
"We do not see serious side effects caused by this vaccine."
Leading children's charity, The Meningitis Trust also showed strong concern for parents not taking advantage of the immunisation programme they were offered. Sue Davie, the chief executive told the BBC News website,
"Pneumococcal meningitis is a devastating disease and vaccination is the only way to prevent it. That means it is important for parents to immunise their children."
The effects of meningitis, if survived are permanent. If children catch the illness at such as young age, when they are still babies, they can develop with disabilities which will remain with them for the rest of their lives. Such disabilities include loss of hearing, sight, communication skills including speech, epilepsy, paralysis and cerebral palsy.