The European Medicines Agency has recommended the approval of a vaccine to treat one of the most common for meningitis.

The Bexsero (4CMenB) vaccine, developed by Novartis, is considered by the EMA as safe and effective in preventing Meningitis B in individuals aged two months and older, and is expected to be licensed in the UK in early 2013.

Meningitis B is the most common form of the disease – it affects an average of 1,870 people in the UK each year, many of them children, and one in ten people die.

There are large numbers of Meningitis B strains in the UK, which makes producing a vaccine difficult. But studies of Bexsero show that it should protect against 73% of strains which cause the disease.

National charity, Meningitis UK described the approval of Bexsero as a “landmark moment” in the fight against meningitis and called for the Government to introduce the vaccine into its routine immunisation schedule as soon as possible.

The last major vaccine against meningitis – the pneumococcal vaccine – took five years to be introduced into the immunisation schedule.

Meningitis UK Founder Steve Dayman said: “I have waited three decades to hear this. It is vital that the vaccine is introduced in the UK immunisation schedule as soon as possible. It will save countless lives and prevent many people enduring the suffering caused by this devastating disease.”

“We will be campaigning hard to make the Government introduce it,” added Dayman.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation will decide whether to introduce the vaccine into the immunisation schedule.

Image: the vaccine is expected to be licensed to prevent Meningitis B in the UK next year. Photo: courtesy of