A SHEFFIELD mother this week described the “worst nightmare” of her four-month-old son contracting a form of meningitis as she supported a campaign to persuade the Government to introduce more vaccinations.
Carol Bally went through the ordeal with Daniel, who was diagnosed at the Children’s Hospital after struggling with his breathing.
Thanks to the disease being caught early, he has made a made a good recovery. But Carol said she was alerted to the need for a more comprehensive childhood immunisation programme.
In particular, she is backing an online petition for meningitis B to be covered. At present, children are routinely vaccinated against meningitis C, but both strains are potentially fatal.
Carol, aged 35, of Fox Hill, said: “Our worst nightmare happened in March this year when my four-month-old son Daniel awoke at midnight with breathing difficulties.
“We dialled 999 straight away and after arriving at Sheffield Children’s Hospital he had various tests including a lumbar puncture, which confirmed the awful news that he had e coli meningitis with septacemia.
“Fortunately they had caught it early and Daniel was on antibiotics for three weeks and has made a good recovery. There seems to be no side-effects from him having meningitis although he does seem to catch things quite easily now, but we are unsure if it is connected to this.”
Carol, who is married to Richard, aged 39, a plumber, and has two other children, Georgia, aged five, and Jake, three, said she was supporting Meningitis Research Foundation’s Counting the Cost of Meningitis campaign “to ensure that every child is vaccinated against every type of meningitis so parents do not have to go through what we did”.
She added: “It was horrific and it’s something you never expect. I had heard of meningitis but you seem to think it will never happen to you. It was a massive shock.”
The MRF is aiming to collect 10,000 signatures to present to 10 Downing Street, calling for a ‘menB’ vaccine to be included in the childhood immunisation schedule “as soon as one that is safe and effective is available”. Tests are currently being carried out.
The organisation also want the Government to change its criteria for assessing the value of vaccination for meningitis and septacaemia to include full medical costs, plus social and education costs of the disease. The thrust of the campaign is that it is more effective and cheaper to prevent the disease in the first place.
The meningitis C vaccine has resulted in a 90% drop in cases and campaigners hope to see a similar reduction for meningitis B, which afflicts about 1,650 people a year. One in four will die.