Mum who lost her daughter calls for meningitis vaccine

Jodie Dunk with her children Freya and Joey
Jodie Dunk with her children Freya and Joey

TWO years after a ‘revolutionary’ vaccine became available for a deadly strain of meningitis, a mum who lost her daughter to the disease is calling for the injection to be given to babies routinely.

Jodie Dunk’s 13-month-old baby Mariah died from meningitis B in 2009, but despite a vaccine for it getting an EU licence in January 2013, it is still only available privately.

The 24-year-old, of Cumbrian Close, Durrington, said: “It’s a joke, really.

“I’m shocked it’s not in children’s immunisation programme.

“I understand it’s all down to the money that it hasn’t been introduced, but it’s awful because you can’t put a price on someone’s life.”

Jodie, who now has two other children, is working with UK charity Meningitis Now to try to persuade the Government to introduce the vaccine as part of a routine programme of immunisations in babies.

She added: “I know it’s available privately, but people shouldn’t have to pay out for it.

“The fact that there is a cure they haven’t introduced and there are people still suffering and dying is insulting to people who have lost babies.”

According to the charity, the UK has one of the world’s highest Meningitis B rates, killing more of the country’s under-fives than any other infectious disease.

In total, one in 10 people die and at least one in three survivors suffer life-long after-effects, including limb loss, brain damage, epilepsy, deafness and blindness.

Mariah died in December, 2009, having gone to bed with what Jodie thought was a bit of teething pain.

She said back then she did not know any of the symptoms of meningitis, other than that it can cause a rash, which is why she also wants to raise awareness of the signs and symptoms of the disease.

“Although she wasn’t her usual self, there was nothing which could have alerted me to anything other than teething troubles or a cold,” she said.

“She was very off her food and tired. If I had known then all the signs and symptoms of meningitis when she was poorly that day, I would have rushed her to A&E, but I didn’t know.

“People should listen to their instincts. If a baby has a fever, or really cold hands and feet, they can be signs. The rash is the last thing to come up.

“I would say to people, if they are worried, they should push to get advice or seen by a doctor.

“And if they are really concerned their baby is unwell, go to A&E.”

For more information about the vaccine and the signs and symptoms of meningitis click here