“I am an emotional wreck. At last the meningitis vaccine will be available on the NHS. It’s a few years too late for Leo but in time for so many children in the future...”
These were the words of Donacloney mum, Lana Wells, on hearing of the decision to offer a vaccine against the deadly meningitis B disease, free on the NHS, assuming a cost effective agreement can be reached with the provider.
The decision was an emotive one for Lana, who knows only too well the devastation of the disease. She lost her little son Leo just weeks before he turned two and a half to meningococcal septicaemia.
Despite the fact it had been shown to be safe and effective, the Department of Health until now had ruled not to use the vaccine due to uncertainties about cost effectiveness.
Lana along with local politicians and parents had been campaigning for this decision to be reversed.
Lana first heard that the campaign had been effective through a post on David Simpson’s Facebook page on Friday 21, stating that the vaccine would be implemented.
“For me it’s a mixed, very mixed feeling, about the decision” said Lana. “I’m so glad to hear that the vaccine will now be given free under the NHS, but it is a bitter-sweet result for us.”
Lana admits that had the vaccine been available four years ago, there is no way of knowing if it would have saved Leo’s life , but feels at least she would have had hope.
“This decision has been announced on the four year anniversary of Leo’s death - this week we will be standing in the churchyard.”
Lana’s mum, who has stood by her side through it all, also feels the weight of mixed emotions.
“We are so pleased that all our hard work has paid off and that this vaccine will help so many, but it’s still hard for us.”
Despite all the heartache and with three other children at home, Lana got stuck into fundraising for Meningitis from just six months after Leo’s death.
“It gives me a focus” said Lana. “I feel like I’m doing something for Leo and it makes me feel like he didn’t die in vain.”
Lana added: “The campaign was hard-won – we shouldn’t have had the announcement last summer that the vaccine was not going to be made available. However, we are so delighted that families across the UK will now have a fighting chance to battle this devastating disease – this achievement is legacy for our son Leo and others”.