Committee on Health Affairs deputy chairman Antanas Matulas told LRT Radio that Lithuania has one of the highest rates of meningitis infections in the entire European Union, so they must find ways to stop this dangerous disease.
“On Monday, the new minister of health, Juras Požela, assured the press that there definitely wouldn’t be a positive answer on possibilities to compensate this vaccine’s expenses this year,” said Matulas.
Medical experts say that the vaccine is expensive – it costs about €130, and the duration of its effect is limited. Also, when taking a child’s age into account, each child needs between two and four doses of this vaccine. Parents have expressed anger that the vaccine is not compensated.
Daiva Razmuvienė, the head of the Immunoprophylaxis division at the Infectious Disease and AIDS Centre, says that the vaccine has run out in Lithuania because of increased vaccination levels among children. She said that Europe has a single producer of the vaccine and that this producer is incapable of meeting demand, affecting both Lithuania and the rest of Europe.
According to the Infectious Disease and AIDS Centre, a limited amount of the vaccine – about 300 doses – will reach Lithuania this week. Those doses will be received from other European countries. More vaccines should reach Lithuania in the second half of April.
Meningitis infections are dangerous to people of all ages, but it often infects children who are up to 5 years of age. Up to 80 meningitis diagnoses are identified in Lithuania every year. Last year, 74, cases were reported in Lithuania, 7 of which were fatal.