Derry MP Mark Durkan has called on the Government to make the life-saving Meningitis B vaccine (Bexsero) available to all children at risk to ensure fewer and fewer people have to suffer the heartache endured by Emma and Darren Cowey, who lost their nine month old baby, Jamie, to the deadly illness in 2004.
Mr Durkan helped to lead a parliamentary push for the successful introduction of the Men B vaccine for babies aged up to one, and also supported the local campaign by Tullyally parents Emma and Darren whose little boy died of the killer disease at the Royal Victoria Hospital on Halloween 2004, less than 24 hours after first developing symptoms.
The SDLP MP now wants the vaccine extended to all children who at risk of contracting Men B, in particular, under fives, with thousands of children across the North West still at risk.
He said: “The lives of so many families in Derry and across the North have been turned upside down by this devastating disease.
“We have a vaccine that has the potential to save many young lives and we should be using it.
“I am therefore joining the call on the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt to mark today’s anniversary by taking the extra step now to extend the vaccine.
“The government must review the current vaccine regime in order to protect children, not least those, who through fluke of timing, weren’t protected.
“I am also supporting Meningitis Now’s new ‘Give Children A Voice’ campaign which highlights the restrictive nature of the government’s current programme.
“The charity is collecting signatures to add to a letter to Jeremy Hunt which will be presented to him at Westminster in the coming weeks by a child who has missed out on the vaccine.
“I would therefore encourage as many people as possible to send a clear message to the Health Secretary – put children’s lives before cost and make an urgent decision to extend the Men B vaccine.”
To add your name to the ‘Give Children A Voice’ campaign visit www.meningitisnow.org/how-we-help/campaigns/give-children-voice