More than 370,000 people have signed a petition calling for all children in the UK to be given a meningitis vaccine following the death of a two-year-old girl.
Faye Burdett, from Maidstone in Kent, died on Valentine’s Day after fighting the meningitis B infection for 11 days. Her story, told by her mother Jenny, has been widely shared on social media.
Faye’s family said they were enduring “a pain you cannot describe”.
A vaccine to protect against meningitis B is available on the NHS for babies aged two months, followed by a second dose at four months and a booster at 12 months. Parents who wish to have older children vaccinated must pay privately, although a worldwide shortage of the vaccine Bexsero means stocks are very low.
Its manufacturer, GlaxoSmithKline, hopes to have increased stocks in the UK by the summer. The NHS programme is unaffected by the shortage.
Burdett has published photos of her daughter, including one of her in a hospital bed just before she died. She said: “This is a photo of Faye, two years old, who sadly lost her life to this dreadful disease. We campaign for change in her memory. “Faye was taken to A&E with a rash on her forehead. She was then transferred … to Evelina Children’s hospital, where her heart stopped in the ambulance. They revived her and spent hours working on stabilising her. We were given a 1% survival chance but she proved them wrong and carried on fighting. “After a few days she seemed to have turned a corner, but the sepsis started to affect her more and the decision of limb removal was made. The extent of removal was massive, full leg amputation and one arm and plastic surgery.
“She was getting tired, her little body consumed by meningitis and sepsis. We had to make the decision, a massive operation and she may die or we let her go peacefully on her own accord.
“We decided the latter and then watched our little girl slip away. At 9pm on 14 February she finally fell asleep forever. All this in only 11 days.”
Burdett called on people to sign the petition asking for the government to ensure the meningitis B vaccine is given to all children, not just newborn babies. “All children are at risk from this terrible infection,” she said. “There needs to be a rollout programme to vaccinate all children, at least up to age 11.”
Sue Davie, the chief executive of Meningitis Now, said: “Our heartfelt sympathies go out to Faye’s family and friends – they know we are here to support them in any way we can.
“We are using our voice to support the petition to raise the profile of meningitis, keeping it high on the political agenda and increasing awareness among the public to prevent more lives being lost to this devastating disease.
“Although the introduction of the meningitis B vaccine on the childhood immunisation scheme for young babies was a momentous achievement, saving thousands of lives, there are still so many, like Faye, left unprotected.
“Moving forward, we continue to campaign to see the meningitis B vaccine rolled out, particularly to at-risk groups, to ensure a future where no one in the UK loses their life to meningitis.”