Kent

Meningitis B petition becomes UK's most signed

Faye Burdett Image copyright Just Giving / Charlene Reed
Image caption Faye Burdett was taken to A&E with a rash on her forehead but died days later

A petition calling for the meningitis B vaccine to be given to all children, not just babies, has become the most signed on the UK Government website.

More than 580,500 people have signed the petition, highlighted by the stories of two-year-old Faye Burdett and rugby player Matt Dawson's son.

It beats the previous highest number of signatures, on the Block Donald J Trump from UK entry, which has 579,468.

Parliament considers for debate petitions with more than 100,000 names.

Faye's mother backed the campaign by sharing an image of her daughter before her death from meningitis B on Valentine's Day.

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Media captionWhy Matt Dawson is backing the campaign for all children to be vaccinated

Faye, from Maidstone, Kent, died after fighting the infection for 11 days.

Former England rugby union captain Dawson later revealed his family went through "two weeks of hell" as his two-year-old son Sam battled meningitis W135.

Sam Dawson underwent treatment at Great Ormond Street Hospital.

A vaccine to protect against meningitis B became available on the NHS for children under the age of one in September, but parents who want to have older children vaccinated must pay privately. The UK is the first country to have introduced the vaccine.

Faye's parents, Jenny and Neil Burdett, said the response to the petition had been "overwhelming".

"We thought long and hard about the release of Faye's pictures but we as a family who have been through the devastation of meningitis feel all children should be able to get protected from this cruel disease," they said.

"It's not just about Faye's death but also about the maiming of children that do survive the disease.

"Prevention must be better."

A separate appeal in Faye's name on behalf of Evelina London Children's Hospital where she died has raised more than £17,500.

Image copyright Meningitis Now
Image caption Faye's mother Jenny published the picture of her daughter just before her death

Private clinics have been asked by manufacturer GlaxoSmithKline not to start new courses of the meningitis B vaccine - called Bexsero - because of shortages.

The NHS vaccination programme is unaffected.

GlaxoSmithKline has said stocks are expected to return to normal levels by July.

Chair of the Commons health select committee, Dr Sarah Wollaston, said the government was advised by the joint committee on vaccination and immunisation (JCVI).

"There is a case for the JCVI looking again at the formula it uses to weigh up cost effectiveness and I think that is what should now happen as a result of this petition," she said.

"The way the public feel is absolutely crucial as part of how you weigh up these decisions but it shouldn't be the main driver of policy."

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