STROUD MP Neil Carmichael is backing a campaign to give all babies the meningitis B vaccine - after meeting families left devastated by the disease.

Mr Carmichael joined MPs from all parties and families directly affected by meningitis, to call on the government to make the vaccine available free on the NHS. During a Parliamentary photo call, hosted by the Conservative backbencher, MPs were able to learn more about the benefits of the meningitis B vaccine.

The campaign is being led by Stroud district’s own Meningitis Now, the UK’s largest meningitis charity.

“In the next few weeks the Health Secretary will decide whether to make the Meningitis B vaccine available to all babies on the NHS, as part of the national immunisation programme,” he said.

“This vaccine has the potential to save two children’s lives every week and that’s why I’m supporting Meningitis Now and asking the government to make the right choice – bring in the vaccine now.”

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 per cent 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 has collected 36,000 signatures on a petition.

Meningitis Now chief executive Sue Davie said: “I want to thank Neil Carmichael for his support and for taking time out to meet families affected by meningitis.

“We are sending a clear message to the government – put babies and children’s lives before cost and make the decision to introduce the Meningitis B vaccine now.”

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 will make a recommendation to the Health Secretary.