UK Government

Department of Health: Children to be offered better protection against disease

Press Release   •   Jan 19, 2010 10:53 GMT

Protection against scepticaemia and pneumococcal meningitis will be boosted from 7 to 13 strains of pneumococcal  bacteria.

A replacement vaccine, which will protect children against a greater number of strains of the pneumococcal bacteria, is to be introduced into the routine Childhood Immunisation Programme later this spring, Public Health Minister Gillian Merron said today.

The vaccine will be phased in to replace the current vaccine, and will protect against 13 different types of pneumococcal bacteria, whereas the existing version of the vaccine currently protects against 7 strains.

The new vaccine will follow exactly the same three dose schedule that is used at present: one vaccination at two, four and 13 months old. Parents of infants who are due to be vaccinated should not delay.

Welcoming the announcement Public Health Minister Gillian Merron said

“From this spring, this vaccine will provide greater protection to children and marks yet another improvement this government has made to our world class Childhood Immunisation Programme.

“I am proud that we have been so successful in protecting children against serious diseases and that we have drastically reduced instances of illnesses and death.”

Professor David Salisbury, Director of Immunisation at the Department of Health, said:

“The UK will be one of the first countries in Europe to take delivery of this improved vaccine for introduction this spring”

“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.”

The move to introduce the new vaccine follows a procurement process, following strict EU rules, which was completed in January and resulted in the contract being offered to Wyeth for their pneumococcal vaccine ‘Prevenar 13’.

Notes to editors

  • The pneumococcal conjugate vaccine was first introduced into the routine childhood vaccination programme in September 2006.
  • This announcement is being made by the Department of Health in England. The procurement announcement applies to the UK supply of vaccine and Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will be making the same change.
  • This change only affects the childhood immunisation programme. The adult pneumococcal vaccine, Pneumovax, will continue to be administered as usual.
  • For further information contact the DH newsdesk on 020 7210 5221.
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