The Department of Health has ordered that a vaccination against rotavirus is made available to all babies.
Infants aged between two months and four months will be given the immunisation from September 2013 to protect them against the highly contagious viral infection.
At the moment most children will catch the bug, which causes diarrhoea vomiting, stomach pains, fever and dehydration, before they reach school age. And rotavirus is the biggest cause of gastroenteritis in babies and toddlers.
The Government claims bringing in the vaccination will reduce the number of youngsters who need to be hospitalised and save hundreds of thousands of appointments with a GP.
Medical experts predict immunising babies could reduce the number of children aged four and under who suffer from diarrhoea and vomiting caused by the bug from 140,000 to 70,000 each year. And instances in which the youngster ends up in hospital could fall from 14,000 to 4,200.
The vaccine will be administered orally with liquid drops given on two separate occasions.
The Department of Health’s director of immunisation Professor David Salisbury urged parents to accept the vaccine for their child once the programme starts.