A new meningitis vaccination for children has been launched which experts predict could save thousands of lives.
The NHS will make the jab available as part of its childhood immunisation scheme as the UK becomes one of the first countries internationally to introduce it.
The vaccine offers patients greater protection against 13 strains of the disease. The previous vaccine only protected against seven.
It will provide increased protection against the most lethal type of bacterial meningitis, pneumococcal meningitis
One in five cases of bacterial meningitis leads to death while 25% of those who survive are left with serious effects. Around 300 people die from bacterial meningitis each year in the UK and it affects around 3,000 people in total.
A spokeswoman for the Department of Health said: “The programme has been very successful in protecting children against serious diseases, and has drastically reduced instances of illnesses and death.”
Professor David Salisbury, director of immunisation at the Department of Health, said: “The UK is one of the first countries in Europe to take delivery of this improved vaccine.
“Parents do not need to take any action, except continuing to have their children vaccinated as normal - every day counts when it comes to protecting children against these diseases.”