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vaccineJune 29 2016

Boots UK has announced it will resume its Meningitis B Vaccination Service having received a limited quantity of the meningococcal Men B vaccine.

The service was halted in January due to a global vaccine stock shortage, three months after boots had launched its service. The scheme operates through its pharmacies as a private patient group direction service, and costs £95.

“Two doses are required and this cost has remained consistent throughout the stock shortage,” said Boots. “Aimed at helping parents who have children outside of the routine age range for the NHS programme, the first batch of stock will enable Boots UK to start vaccinating customers who registered their details to the Boots notification list as early as June 28 and a follow up batch is expected to become available in the next few weeks.”

Jamie Kerruish, Category Director at Boots UK, said: “Due to the unprecedented demand for the service, we have been working hard with our supplier of the vaccine. Throughout the process, we have constantly listened to what our customers have told us and as a result we are delighted to have extended the service to an additional 300 plus stores which will enable 94.4% of the UK to access the vaccine at a Boots store offering the service within a 30 minute drive time.”

Boots UK has opened up a registration facility on Boots.com in order to best manage appointments in preparation of a new stock allocation and to contact customers as soon as a new supply becomes available.

The company has been working with the charity Meningitis Now to raise awareness of signs and symptoms of the disease and to educate parents and carers with babies and children at risk. Boots is also donating £1 from every vaccination to the charity.

Liz Brown, CEO at Meningitis Now, welcomed the return of vaccines into stock, saying that she hoped “this will put downward pressure on pricing and reduce the over-inflated fees being asked in some practices.

“Whilst we recognise and acknowledge that there is a large group of parents that are willing and able to pay for the vaccine privately, we know that there are many that can’t afford to pay, and for these people we will continue to push government through our ‘Beat It Now!’ campaign to vaccinate all at-risk groups, especially children up to the age of five, as part of the NHS programme.”

Meningitis Now has also issued a warning advising people to treat Google’s new online self diagnosis tools with caution. The technology has been launched in the US and is expected to be rolled out to other countries in the near future. 

Google worked with Harvard Medical School and the Mayo Clinic “to create a database of symptoms, which has been added into Google search technology with the aim to give more reliable information to users,” said Meningitis Now.

“Although the move to improve the quality of medical information online is welcomed, the risk is that people may misdiagnose the early symptoms of life-threatening diseases such as meningitis is a real concern.”

Ms Brown said: “We would encourage anyone showing a combination of meningitis symptoms such as severe headache, vomiting, muscle pain and fever with cold hands and feet to trust their instincts and seek medical advice immediately and not waste time using online diagnosis. These could be the early signs of meningitis and septicaemia. There is conflicting advice online, and a rash is often a later symptom.”

The charity had to issue similar advice earlier this year when the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt suggested people could use Google to diagnoses the rash associated with meningitis. “On this occasion we voiced our concerns, calling this advice irresponsible and that whilst a search engine can provide useful information, it is no substitute for the clinical expertise that is offered by staff in our NHS,” said Ms Brown. “My advice is to trust your instincts over technology! If you have any concerns you should seek advice from a medical professional immediately – lost time equals lost lives.”

Link:

Boots UK announcement

Meningitis Now announcement

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