Rotavirus and nasal flu vaccination programmes to start sooner, confirms Department of Health

Vaccinations to protect children from rotavirus and flu will both start this year as Meningitis C jabs get an update

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From September 2013 children under 2 years of age will be offered the nasal flu vaccine, months before its original 2014 start date. In addition, the rotavirus vaccination will be offered to babies under 4 months of age from July this year – a programme previously pegged for a September 2013 start.

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According to the Department of Health the nasal flu programme will be offered to 650,000 children under 2, with a small number of pilot schemes launching to check the NHS can cope with the demand. A nasal spray vaccine, rather than needles, will be used, with a four week gap between the two doses. The vaccine, licensed in December 2011, is made from eggs so would not be given to children with known allergies. In addition, further pilot schemes in secondary schools are set to start in 2014, with plans for vaccinations for older children to start in 2015. At risk children are already offered this vaccine, so speak to your GP if you are concerned.

The rotavirus vaccination programme is being launched in a bid to lower the number of children admitted into hospital as a result of the virus, which currently causes 140,000 children under-5 to be admitted with diarrhoea. Dr Mary Ramsay, Head of Immunisation at Public Health England, says, “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.”

Children aged 12 to 13 are also to be given a new Meningitis C booster jab, which will replace the current MenC jab given at 4 months, after strong evidence suggested it is no longer required. The 3 month and 1 year MenC jabs will remain as part of your baby’s first year immunisation programme.This jab will be offered in the 2013/2014 academic year.

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Professor David Salisbury says, “We already have a world class vaccination programme in place, which saves millions of lives each year, so I’m pleased that we will be able to protect even more people against disease starting later this year.”

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