"For the NHS it’s apparently just not cost-effective to vaccinate older children, so I’d currently have to get it done privately - and it’s not cheap."
"Meningitis can kill within hours so do be aware of the signs to spot."
From the moment you become a parent, you worry. Actually, the worry starts the minute you realise you are pregnant. Will you be a good mother? Can you keep your child safe and well?
We are so lucky in this country to have our NHS, and access to vaccines that protect our children from life-changing or deadly diseases. But a recent petition calling for a wider coverage of the meningitis B vaccine has been making the headlines. In fact, the petition was signed by more individuals than any other in UK parliamentary history in the space of just a few days.
I'm no doctor, but I've been wondering, is it actually worth getting this vaccine for my children? Aged 5 and nearly 3, they are far less at risk from meningitis B than those under one, to my knowledge. For the NHS it’s apparently just not cost-effective to vaccinate older children, so I’d currently have to get it done privately - and it’s not cheap. Two doses are required for people over six months, with most clinics charging between £100 and £200 per dose.
Not that I can get them vaccinated any time soon, anyway. Given the high profile of the petition following recent publicity of older children affected by meningococcal disease, there is a shortage of meningitis B vaccine until the summer, though NHS stocks are not affected.
While I remain undecided on whether to vaccinate or not, meningitis can kill within hours so do be aware of the signs to spot.
The first symptoms are usually fever, vomiting, headache and feeling unwell. Limb pain, pale skin and cold hands and feet often appear before the rash, neck stiffness, dislike of bright lights and confusion.
Other signs in babies are tense or bulging soft spot on their head, refusing to feed, irritable when picked up with a high-pitched or moany cry. A stiff body with jerky movements, or else floppy and lifeless. Fever is often absent in babies less than three months old.
Sepsis (blood poisoning) can occur with or without meningitis (inflammation of the lining around the brain and spinal cord) and not everyone gets all the symptoms and they can appear in any order.
If you are worried about a rash do the glass test. Take a clear glass tumbler and press it firmly against the rash. If you can see the marks clearly through the glass seek urgent medical help immediately.
If you are ever concerned about your child'd health, seek medical advice.
Meningitis Research Foundation
The UK Sepsis Trust
Kirsty McCabe writes her weekly column here on www.juniormagazine.co.uk. Follow us on Twitter: @juniormagazine to keep up with the latest news
"And if you are in need of more, friendly, advice, have a read of some of my other columns..."