Record 580,500 sign meningitis petition after death of Faye, two

An online petition to give a meningitis vaccine to all children has become the most popular ever on the Government's website.

More than 580,500 people have put their name to the campaign, beating the petition to ban US presidential hopeful Donald Trump from the UK.

Supporters rallied following the death of two-year-old Faye Burdett, from Maidstone, Kent, who died on Valentine's Day after fighting the infection for 11 days.

A harrowing picture of Faye lying in a hospital bed just before she died was released by her family and helped spur on the campaign.

Faye's parents, Jenny and Neil, said the response to the petition since the toddler contracted meningitis B has been "overwhelming".

They said: "We thought long and hard about the release of Faye's pictures but we as a family who have been through the devastation of meningitis feel all children should be able to get protected from this cruel disease that took our daughter.

"It's not just about Faye's death but also about the maiming of children that do survive the disease. It is life-changing for the child and its family. Prevention must be better."

The plight of meningitis sufferers was raised further this week when ex-England rugby captain Matt Dawson told how his two-year-old son Sam battled meningitis C.

He is now well and back home with his family but Dawson said he felt "absolutely helpless" as he lay hooked up to machines in hospital.

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.

Manufacturer GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) hopes to have increased stocks in the UK by the summer. The NHS programme is unaffected.

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