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Some children may not have had meningococcal C vaccine

BMJ 2001; 323 doi: (Published 01 December 2001) Cite this as: BMJ 2001;323:1308
  1. Oluwatoyin Ejidokun (ejidokun-t{at}, consultant in communicable disease control,
  2. Brain O'Neill, public health nurse,
  3. Margaret Keating, child health and community nursing systems manager,
  4. Carole Bodkin, child health and records development manager
  1. Gloucestershire Health Authority, Gloucester GL1 2EL
  2. East Gloucestershire NHS Trust, Cheltenham GL50 3EW
  3. Severn NHS Trust, Gloucester GL1 1LY

    EDITOR—The immunisation programme with the new meningococcal C conjugate vaccine was introduced in England in November 1999. The vaccine was offered to everyone under the age of 18 with remarkable success, as shown by its impact on the disease. 1 2

    Guidance documents received from the Department of Health suggested that all children aged under 5 on 1 September 1999 should be offered immunisation by their general practitioners, while those aged 5 and over were to be immunised at school. In Gloucestershire we received numerous telephone inquiries from school nurses and general practitioners about clarity on who was responsible for immunising children aged over 5 who were in the reception year at school.

    A recent confirmed case of group C disease in a 6 year old who was thought to have had the vaccine but was later found not to have received it raised our suspicion that a number of children may potentially have missed receiving the vaccine. Children in this category were those born between 1 September 1994 and 1 August 1995.

    Data obtained from our child health surveillance system showed that of a total of 6890 children, only 4479 (65%) had received their meningococcal C vaccine. We have identified all the children and written to their general practitioners, requesting them to check their records and update our database on the immunisation status of children who seem not to have received the vaccine. This letter would also serve as a prompt for general practitioners to remind parents of the need for the immunisation.

    Our experience suggests the potential for some individuals to miss out on an important intervention as a result of government advice being misinterpreted.


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