MP backs Derry family’s call for meningitis vaccine

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Derry parents who lost their infant son to a killer bug have enlisted the city’s MP in the battle for a vaccine to be made available to all children.

Emma and Darren Cowey, of Tullyally, lost their nine-month-old son Jamie to Meningitis B less than 24 hours after his first symptom developed in November 2004.

Meningitis B is one of the deadliest forms of the disease but now a revolutionary new drug could save thousands of lives. Available to all children. Bexsero is the first Meningitis B vaccine licensed for use in the UK and could ensure that thousands don’t suffer, especially the under fives, who are most at risk from the deadly disease.

Jamie died from meningococcal septicaemia in November 2004.

The day before he succumbed to the disease, the tot woke up as bright as a button. But by the afternoon he was falling asleep in Darren’s arms.

When he woke two hours later at 4pm, he did not want to be moved and was hot. Jamie also had a purple spot on the back of his neck, so the couple took him to the doctors.

They were told to go home and ring back if the baby got worse.

At around 6pm, Jamie started to vomit and seemed thirsty but could not keep his bottle down. They went to hospital but Jamie was not admitted until 10pm.

Doctors diagnosed meningitis and transferred Jamie to a bigger hospital, but suffered a heart attack and there was nothing that could be done.

Emma (33) said: “At about 11am doctors said he could fight no more. We told him to be so brave and kissed his tiny head – Jamie’s heart stopped at 11.10am.

“We wouldn’t want this to happen to anyone else – it devastated our lives and the lives of our family and friends.

“Ever since we have been raising awareness of meningitis and it’s great to have Mr Durkan’s support.”

After hearing their story and support for the campaign, Foyle MP, Mark Durkan, united with the couple to support the ‘Beat it Now’ campaign to have Bexsero made available to children in schools.

He said: “The couple know the devastating impact of Meningitis B on a family.

“Through raising funds and awareness they have been doing all they can to spare other families that same pain and loss.

“As their MP, I am committed to doing the same, not least by lobbying to ensure that the newly licensed vaccine is adopted for wider immunisation use.”

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), who advise the Government on vaccination, will decide whether the Meningitis B vaccine should be in the schedule and what age groups should receive it.

They are due to consider the vaccine in summer this year and will look at factors such as price, cost-effectiveness and compatibility with other vaccines in the schedule.

To support Meningitis UK’s Meningitis B Beat it Now campaign, please visit

You can upload a message of support to the photo wall or email Mr Durkan.