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HPA hails success of meningitis C vaccination programme

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The number of meningitis C cases has dropped by 99% in the last decade because of a childhood vaccination programme, figures suggest.

Health Protection Agency officials say there were only 13 cases of meningitis C in 2008-09 in England and Wales, down from 955 in 1998-99 - when the meningitis C vaccination was first introduced.

Prior to the introduction of the injection, four out of 10 cases of meningitis were the C type and caused more than 100 deaths a year.

There is currently no vaccine available for meningitis B, which currently causes almost 90% of cases in the UK.

HPA immunisation expert Dr Mary Ramsay said the meningitis C vaccine’s 10th anniversary was “a significant milestone”.

“Group C meningococcal infection has virtually disappeared from the UK, with only a handful of cases reported since the beginning of the year,” she added.

“Our surveillance has shown parents have great faith in this vaccine and the high uptake of the vaccine has been a major factor in reducing the number of cases of meningitis C.

“Since January, we have received only six reports of invasive group C meningitis.”

Justin McCracken, chief executive of the HPA, said: “Thanks to the Department of Health’s commitment to introducing the vaccine and the hard work of NHS staff in delivering it, this vaccine has provided essential protection against this serious disease.”

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