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Monday, November 15, 1999 Published at 16:56 GMT


UK: Scotland

Meningitis programme under way

High-risk groups are being vaccinated first

One of the biggest immunisation programmes ever seen in Scotland is under way.


Abeer Parkes reports on the start of the vaccination effort
Ten lives were claimed in Scotland last year by Meningitis C, and, in an effort to control the deadly bug, youngsters between the ages of 15 and 17 are the first to be immunised.

All younger age groups will be offered the vaccine later.

Government ministers say the availability of this vaccine marks the beginning of the end of Meningitis C, which affected 147 people in Scotland last year.

But the vaccine is new on the market and there are not yet enough supplies to immunise all of the one million Scottish children under 18, so the highest risk groups are being offered it first.

Phased programme

Vaccinations for 15 to 17-year-olds begin on Monday, followed by babies up to four months from the end of this month.

It will be phased in among other age groups over the next 14 months.


[ image: GPs will contact parents]
GPs will contact parents
Parents are being urged not to approach their doctors for appointments.

Schools will send out consent forms and GPs and health centres will notify parents of appointment times.

The Health Education Board for Scotland is launching a major campaign informing the public how the scheme will work.

When the programme was announced, Health Minister Susan Deacon said the scheme was a huge logistical challenge for health professionals and head teachers.

But she also said it would be a huge achievement for Scotland, which is one of the first countries to introduce a routine national vaccination programme.

She said: "This is an opportunity which the Scottish Executive was not prepared to ignore. The development of this vaccine is hugely welcome.

'Immensley proud'

"It will mean that Scotland will be one of the first countries in the world to introduce a proper programme of vaccination. As health minister and the mother of a young child, I am immensely proud to be able to make this announcement today.

"In order to immunise one million babies and children, it will pose a major logistical problem. But that is a challenge we are determined to meet."

A research group was set up last year to explore ways of introducing a possible Scotland-wide vaccination programme.

It had input from the Scottish Executive, public health groups, GP representatives, the education sector and medical experts.

Ms Deacon said: "I believe they have come up with a plan which puts in place a sound arrangement for Scotland - one which will develop quickly and effectively."



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Internet Links


Meningitis Trust

Hebs - Meningitis C

Scottish Executive


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