FATHER Scottie Kern, who lost his 11-month-old son to meningitis, has welcomed news that a life-saving vaccine could finally be introduced free to all babies on the NHS.
Scottie’s son Cailan died within 24 hours of being diagnosed with pneumococcal meningitis and septicaemia in 2009.
In 2011, the 42-year-old embarked on a campaign to lobby the Government into approving a new jab against meningitis in the childhood immunisation schedule.
Nearly three years on, Bexsero is poised to be included in the immunisations if it can be secured at price to make it cost-effective for the NHS.
In a sad twist of fate, the father-of-three from Oakhurst, had spent five years working on the clinical trials for an inoculation that could have saved his son’s life back in 2009. But the jab was only made available a year later.
Scottie said: “It is a pretty remarkable day for me.”
“I am contracted by the company that makes the vaccine and the irony is unbelievable for me.
“It has taken a long time and I think the challenge has been trying to convince people, with the limited funds that we have in the NHS, to cover the cost of vaccines for diseases like this.
“The vaccine will save many lives. It means that fewer parents will go through what my wife and I went through when we lost Cailan.
“He had a different strain of meningitis but the impact is similar and he died within a day or so.
“As part of my job at the time I was working on a vaccine that would have saved his life but it came out a year after. That’s why it is so important for vaccines to come out.
“And the vaccine is going to have not just an impact here but across other nations. It’s just perfect news.”
The announcement comes after the independent Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation which advises the Government on vaccinations, twice delayed a decision last year due to lack of evidence of cost-effectiveness.
The Department Of Health will now enter into negotiations with vaccine company Novartis to agree a price, before introducing it on the NHS.
Meningitis Now, which lobbied for the vaccine to be made available in the UK, said it hoped the negotiations would be swift.
Chief executive Sue Davie said: “We are thrilled the JCVI listened to our arguments, including the disease’s impact on the whole family, survivors’ quality of life and the true burden of after-effects.
“We won’t celebrate until the first youngster receives the vaccine for free and we urge the Department Of Health and the vaccine company to conclude negotiations quickly – time lost is lives lost.
“While this is a fantastic leap forward, there is still much work to do because there still aren’t vaccines for all forms of meningitis.”
For more information on the disease, vaccine and charity, visit www.MeningitisNow.org