Meningitis B: A quick update

Firstly, thank you for the various responses to the first post. It’s by far my most popular to date, with over 2,000 views in the last few days!! There I was going to post about reaching 2,000 visitors on Saturday, and now we’ve had 3,487!! Hello, by the way, if you’re new!

Some of you may have noticed, I’ve updated the meningitis page slightly since finding a paper on duration of protection (albeit a very small sample). Looks to me like a booster will be required at some point, possibly around age 3, though until there are studies with much larger numbers it’s impossible to say for sure.  Worth bearing in mind if you’ve paid for private vaccinations in older children and want to extend their protection, or if you’ve had a baby vaccinated and would like them to be covered past preschool. One to watch for answers.

However, all that may not matter if the government choose to introduce a comprehensive catch up campaign. Today they have confirmed the issue will be debated in parliament. While I’m not sure the data on efficacy or duration of protection is there, it wouldn’t be unheard of for government to make a decision based on public opinion. It still seems unlikely to me, without firm details of the cost implications of a catch up campaign with possibly several boosters, but you never know. Although I think it unlikely, and if they do it will prove me wrong, you won’t catch me complaining. It’s a horrible disease with a safe vaccine. If the government decide they can afford to do this I will be over the moon!!

Finally, I was wondering what it was particularly about Meningitis B that has caught people’s attention (do let me know if you have a theory). I get that it’s a horrible, horrible disease…but the petition about Group B Strep (GBS) testing in pregnant women is only at 230,000 signatures, compared to the 700,000 in just a few days for Men B. Maybe it’s timing or the strange world of social media (which I’m still learning about daily)? Or that picture of the poor child that died of Men B? Or less awareness around GBS? Or, I guess there are always more parents of young children, than there are those expecting babies – maybe there’s a selfish element to it. Or, maybe people have researched it and come to a decision as to why to sign one and not the other? I don’t know.

Very briefly, Group B Step is the leading cause of meningitis in newborns, (433 cases of GBS in babies under 90 days old in 2014) and could be prevented through screening and treatment of pregnant women. This is complicated, as many women carry GBS with no ill effect, and treating women who are at a very low risk with intrusive procedures (IV antibiotics during labour) is far from ideal. But, it’s not that different a situation from Men B. It’s on my list of topics to cover, so keep your eyes peeled for that one!



4 thoughts on “Meningitis B: A quick update

  1. I’ve always had a keen eye out for any signs that might even pretend to look like they might possibly be meningitis (bit over the top, maybe…). Any spots get glass tested straight away and I do not hesitate to use the medical resources available to me (chemist, family members who are gp’s, health visitors, our gp, etc). It scares the jeebies out of me and I will be watching for updates on the vaccine and it’s effectiveness and whether they would need several top-ups, etc. I also signed the Strep-B petition. I was never told, asked, warned, informed, anything during either pregnancy about this and was shocked when I read up on it after the fact.


    1. I really think people aren’t aware of GBS. And I agree about it being scary. I remember being scared of meningitis as a teen – we had several cases at school, then when the vaccine came in in 1999 it was all over the news. I vividly remember the stories of teenagers having a stiff neck one minute and being in intensive care the next. Scary, scary stuff!


  2. I think it’s the fact that Men B can look like a host of other ‘run of the mill’ illnesses – winter vomiting, flu, colds etc. and many parents are already constantly battling those, (especially those with more than one child), ergo, they’re constantly battling the fear that it *could* be Men B. As for the Group Strep B petition, I have signed this, and not sure why either. Xx


    1. You may well be right – with Gbs, you might worry once or twice during pregnancy but then (hopefully) give birth to a healthy baby and never think of it again. With meningitis, as you say, there’s that “rash check” you do when they’re ill, and it’s always on your mind. Thank you – that hadn’t occurred to me until you mentioned it (I’m tired!!)


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