A wife who lost her beloved husband to meningitis is urging the Government to make a new vaccine available to all children.
The new drug Bexsero is the first vaccine for Meningitis B – one of the deadliest forms of the disease in the UK – licensed for use in the UK.
Lesley Leaver, 59, of Guiseley, is urging the Government to add the vaccine to those given to all children routinely through the NHS.
She said the move would save thousands of lives, especially among children under five, the age group most at risk. Mrs Leaver’s husband, Kevin, was 50 when he died of meningococcal septicaemia, just five hours after being admitted to hospital.
The popular deputy head at St Mary’s School in Menston had a rash, stomach pains, very cold hands and feet and flu-like symptoms.
By the time he reached hospital his condition had deteriorated and the crash team were called to resuscitate him. Despite their efforts, he could not be saved.
Mrs Leaver, a retired teacher with two daughters, said: “We lost a devoted husband and father. We grieved not only for our own loss but for what Kevin didn’t live to see and do like walking his daughter down the aisle and seeing his grandson’s first steps.
“When I found out about the vaccine I sat and cried. I thought, ‘Thank goodness that fewer people will have to go through what we have been through.’ Meningitis has no warning, it comes from nowhere and vaccination is the only answer.
“Why, if meningitis can be prevented, should families have their lives turned upside down? The Government has a moral obligation to protect the British public from this awful disease.”
Mrs Leaver is uniting with other bereaved families to support Meningitis UK’s new Meningitis B: Beat It Now campaign, calling for the vaccine to be adopted. The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, which advises the Government on vaccination, will decide in summer whether the Meningitis B vaccine should be in the schedule and which age groups should receive it.
Meningitis B, the most common form of the disease in the UK, affects around 1,870 people each year. Every week six people, many of them children, die of the disease. It kills one in ten and around one in three suffer life-changing after-effects, such as limb loss or brain damage.