The number of children admitted to English hospitals with bacterial pneumonia decreased by a fifth in the two years following the introduction of a vaccine to combat the disease, according to a study.
In Europe, around one in ten deaths in children under five is caused by bacterial pneumonia.
The PCV7 vaccine was introduced into the childhood primary immunisation programme across the UK in September 2006 to protect against seven different strains of streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria.
The study, led by researchers from Imperial College London, shows that in the first two years following the introduction of this vaccine, hospital admissions for bacterial pneumonia decreased by 19 per cent amongst children aged under 15 years.
Admissions for empyema, a rare and serious complication of bacterial pneumonia, decreased by 22%. The pneumococcal vaccine is administered at two, three and 13 months of age. When it was first introduced there was a catch-up campaign for children up to two years.
Take-up of the vaccine over the study period was high. It was administered to an average of 84% of eligible children in England in the first year following its introduction and 91% the following year.