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Thursday, 23 October 2014

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West Cumbrian meningitis campaign celebrates success

West Cumbrian campaigners have been hailed as lifesavers after successfully fighting to get a new vaccine against meningitis.

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SUCCESS: From left, Workington MP Sir Tony Cunningham, Jayne Hooks, of Workington, who lost her son Daniel Tierney to meningitis, and Stuart McDougall, of Maryport, in Downing Street to hand over the 33,000-signature petition for a meningitis B vaccine

Vigorous calls from the county supported the battle to ensure that the UK became the first country in the world to get a vaccine for the B-strain of the illness added to the childhood vaccination programme.

The Department of Health has decided to introduce the meningococcal B vaccine, subject to it being made available by the manufacturer at a cost-effective price.

Campaigners were inspired by the story of Lillie-Mai Jackson, of Maryport, who got meningitis when she was 14 weeks old and lost both her legs and one arm.

The Asante Sana Foundation, based in Maryport, spearheaded a 33,000-name petition demanding action.

Stuart McDougall, 42, of Victory Crescent, is the charity’s director and worked closely with the Meningitis Trust.

He said: “This is fantastic news and we’re thrilled that the vaccine has been added to the programme.

“It will save hundreds of lives and hopefully put a stop to the misery and trauma suffered by millions.”

Workington MP Sir Tony Cunningham backed Mr McDougall and worked in Parliament to bring together key decision-makers to debate the issue.

He said: “This is fantastic news for the country and West Cumbria has played a big part in this.

“I am delighted with the announcement, although we must remember those for whom it has come too late.”

Sir Tony, who hopes the vaccine will be available by next winter, said: “This vaccine is going to save 200 or 300 babies a year from dying.

“It’s a parent’s worst nightmare for their child to be struck by meningitis. It can be so difficult to diagnose.”

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