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New vaccines to join immunisation schedule

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Vaccination programmes to protect millions more Britons against flu, shingles and diarrhoea have been added to the UK’s immunisation schedule.

Children of the age of two, approximately 650,000, will be given a nasal flu vaccine from September as part of a wider vaccination programme.

Pilots to vaccinate primary school children and those of a younger age will operate in some areas to ensure the programme is ready for all pre-school and primary school children in 2014. Pilots for secondary school children will operate in some areas next year with the intention of branching out the programme in 2015.

There will be a shingles vaccination programme for 70-year-olds and a catch-up programme for those aged 79 or below. The idea is to reduce the 30,000 cases seen each year in people over 70 by 40%. The programme will start in September, with approximately 800,000 people set to be vaccinated in the first 12 months.

A rotavirus vaccination programme will begin in July that will see children less than four months old vaccinated against rotavirus - the cause of around 140,000 diarrhoea cases each year in children under the age of five. Almost one in 10, approximately 14,000 children with rotavirus, are forced to spend time in hospital. It is predicted the vaccine will reduce the number of vomiting and diarrhoea cases brought on by rotavirus by 50%, which could lead to 70% fewer hospital stays.

Dr Mary Ramsay, head of immunisation at Public Health England, added: “The introduction of the oral rotavirus vaccine in the US and parts of Europe has had a major impact on preventing young children from developing this unpleasant vomiting and diarrhoeal disease.

“The vaccine is very easy to administer and involves placing a droplet of liquid into the babies’ mouths. In the countries where the vaccine has already been introduced, the uptake has been high and has resulted in rapid and sustained reductions in childhood rotavirus hospitalisations.

“We are excited to be offering this vaccine as part of the national infant immunisation programme in the UK.

“As well as the rotavirus vaccine for infants, the upcoming introduction of childhood influenza and adolescent MenC immunisation programmes along with routine vaccination against shingles for older adults will all continue to contribute to our highly successful vaccination programme which we can boast in the UK.”

The Department of Health has sent GPs and local health organisations a letter detailing the changes.

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Readers' comments (1)

  • Andrew Kingsley

    This is good news - however I am intrigued to understand how vaccination against shingles is designed to work when shingles is a reactivation disease of the chickenpox virus that has been on board for years - normally vaccination produces immunity so that you are ready in advance to fight off disease when it comes along - perhaps this shingles vaccine enhances the immune system to maintain effective viral suppression

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