Teenagers Needed for Meningitis B Vaccine Trial

The NHS are looking for 24,000 year 12 students across Great Britain to take part in an immunisation study for meningitis B. The study aims to discover whether the vaccine could provide wider protection against the illness.

The Oxford Vaccine Group’s ‘Be On The TEAM: Teenagers against Meningitis’ study, is funded by the National Institute for Health Research and Public Health England, and will take place over two years.

What is Meningitis B?

Meningitis B is caused by meningococcus bacteria, carried in the back of the throat.

1 in 10 teenagers can carry the disease without any symptoms, and the study aims to discover whether immunising teenagers against meningitis B will reduce the amount of carriers.

Meningitis B is fatal in one in 10 cases, and most commonly affects children below the age of one. As a result, a vaccine is already available to all children under 12 months.

However, campaigners have been calling for the age limit to be removed and for the vaccine to be available across all age groups. A petition calling for routine vaccines, following the death of two year old Faye Burdett from Meningitis B in 2016, attracted 820,000 signatures.

The study

The 24,000 teenagers who choose to participate will be split into three groups of 8,000 people. Each will receive two doses of one of two vaccines. Samples from their throats will be taken before and after to compare the rates of MenB ‘carriage’.

Out of the three groups, two will be studied for one year, and the other group will be acting as a control group, and will therefore take part for 18 months.

Oxford Vaccine Group’s consultant paediatrician, Dr Matthew Snape, spoke to the BBC saying that they’ve had great enthusiasm from schools they’ve approached so far, with the majority interested in taking part in the research.

He explained further the reason that the study will be aimed at Year 12 students: “The peak of carriage for the bacteria is from the teenage years through to young adulthood – there is a lot of carriage with university students.

“We are doing the study to help us understand whether an immunisation campaign in teenagers would help us protect the whole community.”

The study aims to inform policymakers on any future decisions about adolescent meningococcal immunisation.

A recently published government report explains how decisions are made when it comes to deciding which vaccines to fund. Hopefully this project will provide the evidence they need to ensure vaccination is more widely available - we look forward to seeing the results.

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