Child jab cover is extended

Six more strains of pneumococcal bacteria will be covered by a new vaccine being introduced to the UK's childhood immunisation programme.

Pneumococcal jab overhauled
Pneumococcal jab overhauled

The current vaccine protects against seven strains of pneumococcal bacteria, but Prevenar 13, to be introduced from spring, covers 13. The new vaccine will follow the same three-dose schedule, with vaccinations at two, four and 13 months.

Parents whose infants are due to have their jabs should not delay their vaccinations, the DoH said.

Professor David Salisbury, director of immunisation at the DoH, said: 'Every day counts when it comes to protecting children against these diseases.'

The new vaccine will also deal with the 'serotype replacement' effect demonstrated in some studies. This relates to an increase in invasive pneumococcal disease cases caused by serotypes not in vaccines.

Prevenar 13 protects against the serotypes 1, 3, 5, 6A, 7F and 19A, in addition to the seven serotypes against which Prevenar provides protection (4, 6B, 9V, 14, 18C, 19F, 23F).

Its manufacturer, Wyeth, estimates that the vaccine covers 73-100 per cent of serotypes causing invasive pneumococcal disease in children under five years old.

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