March 24, 2014 5:34 PM

Mark Hunter MP has welcomed a Government decision to give all babies the Meningitis B vaccine free on the NHS. Meningitis

Mark was among 135 MPs to support the Beat it Now! campaign led by Meningitis Now, the UK's largest meningitis charity, to introduce the vaccine. The UK has one of the highest Meningitis B incidence rates in the world, affecting an average of 1,870 people each year over the last 10 years, most of whom are babies and children.

Meningitis B accounts for 50% of the total cases of bacterial meningitis in the UK. Meningitis Now has been campaigning to bring in the B vaccine since January 2013 and collected 36,500 signatures on a petition.

Mark said:

"I have been actively involved in supporting Meningitis Now's campaign to make this vaccine available to all infants, free of charge, through the NHS. Many families in my constituency have been touched by meningitis in some way and there is no doubt that this vaccine will save lives.

"There is still some way to go as the Government now needs to reach an agreement with the vaccine company. I look forward to the day that the first child receives the meningitis B jab free on the NHS."

Meningitis Now chief executive Sue Davie said:

"I want to thank Mark Hunter MP for his ongoing support and for helping families affected by meningitis to help make a difference for future generations. Meningitis devastates thousands of lives every year and we will continue to work hard to protect those at risk and support everyone affected."

The meningitis B vaccine was licensed for use in the UK in January 2013 and has been considered twice by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), in June then October 2013.

After seeking more evidence on cost-effectiveness, the JCVI considered the vaccine in its February 2014 meeting and recommended to the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt that it be introduced. He has now backed this recommendation, subject to agreement on price.

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