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Maidstone: Jenny and Neil Burdett ask committee of MPs to extend vaccination programme after daughter Faye's meningitis B death

The parents of Maidstone toddler Faye Burdett today spoke publicly for the first time about the devastating loss of their daughter, as they urged MPs to extend the meningitis B jab to all children.

The two-year-old, from Shepway, lost her 12-day fight to the killer disease on Valentine’s Day.

Her brave parents Jenny and Neil chose to share the heart-breaking images of the dying tot, covered in a rash, in a bid to raise awareness about the infection.

Faye Burdett died from meningitis on Valentine's Day
Faye Burdett died from meningitis on Valentine's Day

Following the tragedy, a petition calling on the government to change its immunisation programme became the most signed in parliamentary history.

Currently, the jab is only given to those born after July 2015 but supporters want all children under the age of 11 to be vaccinated. It closed with 823,341 signatures, prompting a Parliamentary debate to be called.

Ahead of that the Petitions Committee today heard from the Burdetts, and other families who had first-hand experience of meningitis.

Neil Burdett said that awareness needed to be raised about the disease. He and wife Jenny thought that Faye had been protected against meningitis B because the toddler had had a jab against other strains.

Neil and Jenny Burdett talk to the Petitions Committee
Neil and Jenny Burdett talk to the Petitions Committee

Faye was sent home from Maidstone Hospital, diagnosed with a virus. She returned seven hours later and was sent to Evelina Children's Hospital in London with meningitis B.

Mr Burdett called for doctors to be more cautious when treating children displaying signs which could be meningitis.

He said: "Even if she had just got antibiotics as a precaution it would have given her a chance and that opportunity was missed.

"And for us we can never forget that - those seven hours with her at home when she was just getting worse and worse.

"That's when we lost Faye. By the time they got on top of the meningitis the septicaemia was so bad you can't fight it.

"If that timescale had been reduced I am confident we would still have Faye. It all comes down to time.

"Everybody is too scared to diagnose meningitis. If doctors suspect it in any way they should take a blood test and keep the patient there until they get it confirmed."

He also criticised drug companies and private health clinics for "cashing in" on the jab by charging high prices for the immunisation programme.

Prior to the evidence gathering session, however, the Department for Health released a statement defending its current policy and saying it was not cost-effective to extend the immunisation programme.

England rugby legend Matt Dawson appeared before MPs
England rugby legend Matt Dawson appeared before MPs

The Department of Health said it was a not a good use of NHS resources.

The Burdetts were joined by the creator of the petition, Lee Booth, and rugby legend Matt Dawson, whose son Sami recently survived the virus.

The TV personality posted pictures on Twitter of the two-year-old in his hospital bed, covered in red marks and attached to wires and tubes.

He said he had been inspired to get involved with the campaign after reading Faye's tragic story.

Also giving evidence will be Claire Timmins, from Walsall, whose seven-year-old son Mason also died from the deadly disease in 2013.

Next Tuesday the same committee will hear from representatives from Meningitis Now, the Meningitis Research Foundation and professor Andrew Pollard, chairman of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation which advised government policy on its existing jab policy.

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