Leyland families’ joy after vaccine deal is struck

TRAGIC: Baby Duke William Barton who died of meningitis aged five months

TRAGIC: Baby Duke William Barton who died of meningitis aged five months

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Two Leyland families have spoken of their relief the Government has struck a deal for all babies to be given a potentially life-saving Meningitus B vaccine free of charge.

Pressure was mounting on Whitehall health chiefs to bring the vaccine onto the national childhood immunisation scheme after Government advisors recommended it a year ago, but a battle over costs caused a delay.

It’s come too late for Duke, but it means that going forward, other families hopefully won’t have to go through what we have.

Paula Barton

Five-month-old Duke William Barton of Church Road, Leyland, died of meningitis on March 1 only 16 hours after developing symptoms. After his death, his heartbroken family joined calls for the vaccine.

On hearing the news, Duke’s aunt, Paula Barton said: “We’re definitely very pleased, it’s very good news.

“It’s come too late for Duke, but it means that going forward, other families hopefully won’t have to go through what we have. It’s taken a long time, but the pressure has paid off.”

Sofia Crockatt, 10, lost her leg and almost died from meningococcal septicaemia in February 2007. Her family have been fighting for the vaccine ever since.

Her father Nick said: “It’s mixed emotions. It’s frustrating it wasn’t around years ago for Sofia and little Duke, but it is a massive step in the right direction.

“The challenge going forward is there will be an element of catching up. It’s only going to be available in September forc children up to four months old, so babies born today will not get it and neither will older children. So it’s really important we don’t get complacent.”

Babies will receive the first vaccine at two months old, followed by two further doses.