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Parents 'underestimate meningitis risks'

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Parents’ misunderstandings about meningitis could be putting children at risk, according to new research.

A study found that 68% of parents in the UK do not realise that the meningitis vaccine does not protect their child from all forms of the disease.

One in five (19%) was unaware that children under the age of one are at the greatest risk of contracting meningitis.

The data come from an international survey of parents with infants under the age of two.

Around 3,400 people are affected by bacterial meningitis and septicaemia in the UK every year. The majority of these deaths are caused by meningococcal serogroup B (MenB), for which there is currently no vaccine.

But the findings, presented at the annual meeting of the European Society for Paediatric Infectious Diseases in Greece, suggest that many parents wrongly believe that their child is protected.

Meningitis Trust chief executive Sue Davie, who co-authored the report, said: “This misunderstanding about meningitis vaccine protection suggests that the majority of parents do not consider meningitis when their child is ill, thinking they are protected.

“Sadly, this can cost lives or lead to a child facing a future changed forever with devastating after-effects.”


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