A FAMILY who have been living with the life-long effects of meningitis have backed a new campaign calling for all children to be vaccinated against the infection.
For the past two years the Cross family, from West Meadow Close in Braunton, has fiercely campaigned for the introduction of a vaccine against Meningococcal B.
Although in April 2015 the family achieved success after the Government announced it would be issuing the vaccine to all babies for free, they are now calling for this to be extended.
It follows a number of high profile deaths, with traumatic images of Cornish toddler Faye Burdett in the hours before her death being shared across the world.
Following her death, a petition calling for the vaccination to be given to all children and not just new-borns was established and had now received more than 800,000 signatures, meaning it will now be debated in parliament.
Jodie Cross, whose two daughters Lydia and Millie contracted the disease as children, said: “Again it’s due to the most shocking and upsetting photos of Faye and another boy, Mason.
“Sometimes it’s the shock factor that works. People forget that this is the reality of the infection and it’s not as rare as people think.
“That’s the consequences of it. Some people are unfortunate that their children die from it and others are left with life altering disabilities.”
Millie was seven months old when she suffered from the disease. On the same day she returned home from hospital, Lydia, who was nearly three, became ill.
She recovered, but both her legs were badly damaged by septicaemia and had to be amputated below the knee.
“Millie would have been covered by Lydia wouldn’t have been eligible for the vaccine,” Jodie said. “How can they put those restrictions on families that have got more than one child, to say one child can have it and the other can’t?”
Addressing the issue of the cost of a nationwide vaccination problem, Jodie said in the long term the scheme would help to drastically reduce the number of people requiring long-term care.
The campaign has been supported by North Devon MP Peter Heaton-Jones, who met with the Cross family last week.
These are the main symptoms according to NHS Choices:
Babies and young children under five are most at risk of developing meningitis.
A baby or young child with meningitis may:
- Have a high fever, with cold hands and feet
- Vomit and refuse to feed
- Feel agitated and not want to be picked up
- Become drowsy, floppy and unresponsive
- Grunt or breathe rapidly
- Have an unusual high-pitched or moaning cry
- Have pale, blotchy skin, and a red rash that doesn’t fade when a glass is rolled over it (see below)
- Have a tense, bulging soft spot on their head (fontanelle)
- Have a stiff neck and dislike bright lights
- Have convulsions or seizures
Do not wait for a rash to develop. If your child is unwell and getting worse, seek medical help immediately.
In older children, teenagers and adults, the symptoms of meningitis can include:
- A fever, with cold hands and feet
- Drowsiness and difficulty waking up
- Confusion and irritability
- Severe muscle pain
- Pale, blotchy skin, and a distinctive rash (although not everyone will have this)
- A severe headache
- Stiff neck
- Sensitivity to light (photophobia)
- Convulsion or seizures
If you press the side of a clear glass firmly against the skin and the rash doesn’t fade, it’s a sign of meningococcal septicaemia.
A fever with a rash that doesn’t fade under pressure is a medical emergency, and you should seek immediate medical help.