Study recommendations would make vaccines introduction harder, say campaigners


New proposals may make it harder to get vaccines introduced, campaigners have warned.

The Department of Health and Social Care published a long-delayed report on the funding of vaccination programmes on Monday, almost two years after promising to release it.

Demands for the release of the paper came from two parliamentary committees, as well as campaigners behind an 820,000-signature petition for all children to be given the meningitis B jab.

But the Meningitis Research Foundation said the recommendations in the report "would make it much harder to get vaccines introduced", which is the "opposite of what the petitioners wanted".

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The Cost-Effectiveness Methodology for Immunisation Programmes and Procurement (CEMIPP) paper was commissioned following debate in 2015 over the vaccine for meningitis B.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), which advises ministers on new vaccines, requested a review of the rules on how it determines whether proposed programmes are cost-effective.

Now there will be a three-month consultation on the report's recommendations, including some which the Department for Health and Social Care said would "result in a significant change from current practice".

But Vinny Smith, chief executive at the Meningitis Research Foundation, said: "If implemented as a package, the report recommendations would result in the opposite of what the petitioners wanted.

"The 820,000 people who signed the petition wanted wider access to vaccines, but the recommendations in the report would make it much harder to get vaccines introduced.

"However, now we have a full consultation, our concerns can be openly questioned in more depth."

Dr Paul Catchpole, value and access director at the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry, added: "The UK currently has a world-leading immunisation programme so it is profoundly concerning that proposals to introduce stricter hurdles for one of the most effective public health interventions available to us are even being considered."

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Publication of the report came just a day before public health minister Steve Brine gave evidence to the committee to explain the failure to release the paper.

During the hearing, Mr Brine admitted that publication of the report had taken a "long time" .

"I know that there are frustrations to put it mildly," he said.

He said he prioritised the issue once he had received advice from an expert working group, who reported to him at the end of January.

"Since I have been minister, I have been very aware that I need to get this out and I have," he added.

Chairwoman of the committee Helen Jones said: "The report deals with very complex issues and the Committee has not yet had much chance to study it in full.

"This is at the very least discourteous and I think gives people the impression, rightly or wrongly, that the Government is trying to avoid parliamentary scrutiny."

When asked when the Government would respond to the consultation, Mr Brine said: "We have produced this incredibly complex, this incredibly detailed piece of work. It is now out there.

"We will get feedback and consider it as quickly and efficiently as we possibly can and then we will make a decision."