Parents have their children vaccinated in the belief it offers vital protection against serious infections. But now there are concerns that the meningitis C vaccine may not be effective during key times in their child's life.
New research has revealed that within seven years of receiving the jab, three quarters of children are unprotected against meningitis C because the vaccine has worn off.
The study, by scientists from the Oxford Vaccine Group at Oxford University, looked at 250 British children aged six and 12 who had received the vaccine. Researchers found that only 25 per cent retained sufficiently high levels of the antibodies in their bloodstream to protect them against the disease.
This is worrying, as although babies and toddlers are at highest risk of catching the disease, the next high-risk group is teenagers and young adults. Meningitis C is an inflammation of the meninges (the layers that surround the brain and the spinal cord), which can cause deafness, blindness, loss of limbs, blood poisoning and death.