A ST Helens mum joined forces with Liverpool FC legend Ian Rush yesterday to call on the Government to introduce a nationwide Meningitis B vaccine.
Sue Burke’s seven-year-old son Cieran contracted the devastating condition when he was just nine-months-old and has been left profoundly deaf, with slight cerebral palsy and epilepsy and possible ADHD and autism.
But the mum-of-three, 31, of Peasley Cross, says a childhood immunisation programme would have kept Cieran, who now has a cochlear implant, safe from the potentially deadly disease.
That’s why she’s supporting the Meningitis Research Foundation’s (MRF) Counting the Cost of Menigitis campaign, which highlights the shocking lifelong financial costs of surviving meninigitis.
Sue said: “When Cieran was diagnosed with Meningitis B I couldn’t believe the number of people who asked me why there wasn’t a vaccine. He had had all the normal immunisations but, obviously, wasn’t protected from this.
“I first noticed something was wrong when he started shivering in his cot with a temperature of 40 degrees. But four doctors ignored me before he was finally admitted to hospital two days later.
“The aftermath of meningitis now affects Cieran in everything he does and it’s totally changed our lives. Cieran’s a twin too, with brother Connor, which provides a constant reminder of what Cieran would have been like, had he been immunised.
Ian Rush (pictured below left), who joined Sue at Anfield football stadium yesterday to add his backing to the campaign, said: “I had meningitis as a child and was very lucky to survive without any disabilities. So I am pleased to support this campaign and encourage everyone to sign the petition.”
And Christopher Head, the chief executive of MRF, said: “Counting the Cost of Meningitis shows how those who survive can struggle to come to terms with the impact of these horrific diseases, which change lives forever.
“Vaccination would provide peace of mind for every parent across the country and, to date, thousands of people agree with us and have signed our online petition at www.meningitis.org/sign”