Selsey amputee calls for life-saving meningitis vaccine

Clare with partner Chris and children Alexia and Savanna
Clare with partner Chris and children Alexia and Savanna
  • A Selsey mum is asking for a meningitis B vaccine to be rolled out quickly to help save lives
  • Clare Forbes spent months in a coma after contracting the disease
  • The government is in financial deadlock with a drug company that has manufactured a vaccine
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A MOTHER who lost her legs to meningitis has added her voice to the growing national debate over delays in rolling out a vaccination which could stop others going through what she has.

Clare Forbes, 31, of Manor Road, Selsey, who spent months in a coma, at the age of 17, said the delayed vaccine would save lives.

How can they quibble over £70 when it will cost so much more for all the kids that are getting it now

Karen Verboort

A meningitis B vaccination was ready a year ago, but negotiations to roll it out reached deadlock because the drug company GSK wanted to charge £75 and the government wanted to pay £5.

Meanwhile, Clare said children were dying from the disease.

She contracted meningitis B at the age of 17, in 2001.

She was on life support, for six months, during which time part of both her legs were amputated.

Since then she has suffered constant dizziness and a multitude of other health issues which require 24/7 care and 24 tablets a day, which she estimated costs the NHS at least £6,000 a month.

“It ruins my life,” Clare said.

“When I go to hospital, my eldest daughter cries because she doesn’t know if her mum’s going to come back or stay in hospital.”

“I don’t believe it because it’s a violent disease and there’s so many people that have died from it and that shot could save so many lives.”

Since coming out of hospital, Clare has had two children, Alexia, five, and Savanna, four.

Clare has raised around £100,000 for Meningitis charities by walking marathons, parachuting and abseiling. She was even awarded the BBC South Disabled Sports Woman of the Year.

She aimed to raise £1m but she had to stop taking on challenges in recent years as her health deteriorated.

Clare’s mother, Karen Verboort, lives with Clare and cares for her.

“She needs help for the rest of her life paid for by the NHS. How can they quibble over £70 when it will cost so much more for all the kids that are getting it now.”

“The thought that Clare’s children could get it is horrifying.”

A year ago, expert advisers for the government recommended the meningitis B vaccine be given to babies from two months old across the UK on the NHS.

But a cost-effective price has not yet been agreed with the manufacturers.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said he was hopeful that a deal could be reached “very soon”.

Meningitis charities are calling for urgent action from the prime minister and Mr Hunt to conclude negotiations with manufacturers GSK.