NDSC Provides Reassurance to Parents on the Safety of Meningitis C Vaccine
The National Disease Surveillance Centre (NDSC) refutes recent media reports doubting the safety of the recently launched vaccine against meningococcal C infection.
The NDSC can confirm that none of the UK deaths reported to be associated with the meningitis vaccine can be attributed to the Meningitis C vaccine. These reports of deaths are based on misinterpretation of data from the Committee on Safety of Medicine (CSM) Yellow Card System in the UK.
The CSM has carefully reviewed all data on the safety of Meningitis C vaccines and has concluded that there is no suggestion that this vaccine has led to any deaths. The Meningitis C vaccination provides clear benefit in terms of lives saved and disabilities prevented. The balance of risk and benefit is overwhelmingly favourable. As a result the National Disease Surveillance Centre strongly recommends that those due to be vaccinated should receive the Meningitis C vaccine.
The National Meningitis C Immunisation Programme was launched in Ireland on the 4th October 2000 by Mr Micheal Martin, T.D. and Minister for Health and Children. The immunisation programme will involve approximately 1.3 million people. Every person in Ireland aged 22 or under will be offered immunisation as part of this phased programme. The first phase will commence immediately amongst the groups of the population most vulnerable to the infection, babies and children aged 0-4 years and adolescents aged 15-18 years.
To date over 15 million doses of the Meningitis C vaccines have been distributed in the UK. Last winter there was approximately a 75% reduction in the number of confirmed cases of Meningitis C disease in the 15-17 and under 1 year olds (the first group to be vaccinated) compared to the previous winter. Given that one in ten people who suffer Meningitis C die from the infection, this demonstrates that the vaccines have already saved many lives.