Mum backs meningitis vaccination programme

MRF Communications Officer Amy Luker and her son Jacob getting his MenB vaccine
MRF Communications Officer Amy Luker and her son Jacob getting his MenB vaccine

A Wakefield mum whose young son suffered from meningitis has backed a new vaccination campaign.

Vikki Waldie, whose three-year-old son Thomas was hospitalised by the illness, is encouraging the people to take up new free meningitis vaccines for babies, teenagers and first time university students during Meningitis Awareness Week (September 14 to 20).

Vikki and Thomas Waldie

Vikki and Thomas Waldie

The world’s first comprehensive vaccination programme against meningococcal B (MenB) meningitis and septicaemia for babies began in the UK earlier this month.

It follows the start of a recent vaccination programme for 14 to 18-year-old schoolchildren and 19 to 25-year-olds starting university.

The programme for youngsters was prompted by alarming rise of a deadly new strain of meningococcal W meningitis and septicaemia.

Mrs Waldie, 32, of Buxton Place, near St John’s, said: “my son Thomas contracted bacterial meningitis and septicaemia in June 2013 when he was nine-and-a-half-months-old.”

She highlighted her son’s case as part of the awareness week, which is run by international charity Meningitis Research Foundation (MRF).

Thomas started off with common cold symptoms, runny nose and a slight cough. It developed into a strange “bark”. She and husband James took Thomas to the GP but his cough and cold symptoms disappeared.

Later his appetite started to dwindle. Thomas also developed a temperature, was very lethargic and became sick. He also grimaced at any head movement.

Mrs Waldie said: “We returned to our GP who asked us to go to hospital to be checked out. Once we arrived they immediately started treating him for all forms of meningitis. He was diagnosed with bacterial meningitis after the bloods showed growth of the bacteria a few days after he was admitted.

“Thomas was treated for a week in hospital and we stayed with him. While in hospital after his treatment had started Thomas began to get the septicaemia rash in a few places, but after the treatment finished this disappeared.

“We wish the new MenB vaccine had come in sooner so that Thomas and our family did not have to go through what we did. We’re hoping that the NHS do a catch up programme to help give some kind of protection to my nearly six-month-old daughter Emily, I would hate for her to miss out on the vaccination due to a few months.”

Mrs Waldie joined the MRF’s #WheresOurVaccine campaign in March to press for adoption of the new MenB vaccine.

MRF’s chief executive Chris Head said: “We are delighted with the introduction of these new vaccines which we hope will further reduce the number of cases in the UK. However, there are still some forms of the disease which are not covered by these vaccines so it is vital that people are still aware of the symptoms of meningitis and septicaemia.”

For any questions about meningitis, septicaemia and vaccination against the diseases call MRF’s free phone helpline on 080 8800 3344 or log on to www.meningitis.org