Vaccinate Dutch kids against more diseases: experts

The Netherlands' national vaccination program works - some 450 children's lives are saved through it every year - but it is too limited. The Dutch government must include more infectious diseases in the national vaccination program, multiple vaccination experts said in advise to the Tweede Kamer, AD reports.

The Tweede Kamer, the lower house of Dutch parliament, is discussing vaccinations on Monday. A range of experts, including researchers and manufactures, sent in their opinions and advice beforehand. Especially the vaccination against meningococcus B is often mentioned. Children in the UK have been getting this vaccine since 2015, while it still isn't part of the Netherlands' vaccination program. An infection from a meningococcal bacteria can turn into meningitis or sepsis.  Meningococcus B is most common in children under the age of 5. 

"To begin with, we would have to set the limit for the costs of effectiveness of vaccines the same as for other medical interventions", Professor Dirkje Postma of the University Medical Center Groningen said to AD. He called it strange that a new drug in the world of oncology is allowed to cost 80 thousand euros per year of life gained, but wen it comes to saving children's lives with a vaccine, the limit is 20 thousand euros. 

According to Patricia Bruijning-Verhagen, pediatrician at UMC Utrecht, the government forgets the enormously high costs that arise if a child gets meningococcal disease. Not only from expensive treatment, but also in the consequences for the environment or society. These costs must form part of the calculations in future, she said, according to the newspaper. 

According to pharmaceutical company GSK, the Dutch government did not act quickly enough a few years ago when there were signs of a meningococcus W outbreak. It took a year for vaccines to be ordered. "A proactive policy could have saved a lot of lives. What happened here with meningococcus W, can also happen with meningococcus B."

In December the Dutch Health Council reported that a vaccine against meningococcus B is available, but how effective it is in reducing the number of cases is still unknown. The vaccine also has side effects, like fever, which is why it isn't included int he National Vaccination Program. 

GSK told AD that the Health Council's decision not to include the meningococcus B vaccine in the national program will result in about 80 diagnoses of the disease each year, including 5 deaths and 24 cases of disability.