The number of children contracting a deadly Hib infection has been reduced by 97%, experts said on the 20th anniversary of the introduction of the immunisation programme.
Before the vaccine there were 900 reported Hib infections in children each year in England and Wales, but 20 years on the number of children who contract the infection has fallen to just 30 a year.
It has been estimated that the introduction of the programme in 1992 has also saved the NHS £2 million each year in treatment costs.
Hib - or Haemophilus influenzae type b - infections can cause meningitis septicaemia and pneumonia in children.
The Hib vaccine is offered to children at two, three and four months old. A booster dose is offered at 12 months as part of the combined Hib/MenC booster, to provide longer-term protection.
Dr Shamez Ladhani, a consultant in paediatric infectious disease at St George’s University of London, said that although the disease is better controlled than ever, surveillance needs to continue to ensure there is not a resurgence.
Dr Ladhani said: “While Hib control is currently the best it has been since the vaccine was introduced, there have been times in the past 20 years when the incidence of Hib disease increased and required introduction of a number of control measures - such as Hib vaccination booster programmes - to bring disease rates down to the current low levels.