The U.K. launched a vaccination campaign on Thursday targeting a meningitis B strain linked to a spate of four fatalities. The strains, omicron variant meningitis B and meningococcal serogroup B, are linked to immunization campaigns this year on the British mainland. The prevention campaign for UK residents is set to run through January. The U.K. department of health said that additional vaccinations will be given to those who had not had them or were not originally given them, saying that parents need to “take the opportunity to ensure they’re protected as quickly as possible.”
The policy has received criticism from a group of parents, with several hundred threatening to launch legal action, according to a report by The Sun.
The charity, Mothers & Babies, said the decision was a “shameful betrayal of Britain’s struggling families.”
In one of the cases, a 10-year-old child with low-risk meningitis died in June, prompting the government to issue a statement saying they were “very sorry” about what happened.
Meningitis B is rare in the U.K., with only about 2,000 cases seen each year. The British National Health Service says that because the vaccine does not protect against infection, cases are usually milder and that the survival rate of those with a severe infection is about 95 percent.
Meningitis kills about a quarter of those it strikes, and complications affect more than 40 percent of people with the disease.
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