JCVI advises changes to routine childhood and HPV immunisation schedules

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has recommended a change to the childhood immunisation schedule and that the UK moves to a one-dose HPV vaccination programme.

Baby receiving a vaccine in their thigh
Childhood immunisation schedule to change (Photo: keerati1/Getty Images)

The change to the routine childhood immunisation schedule has been recommended because the Hib/MenC vaccine Menitorix is being discontinued. The jab is currently given to infants at 12 months of age.

The changes are unlikely to come into effect until 2025 because the commitee said there was currently enough UK stock of Menitorix to allow the current schedule to remain in place until then.

Instead of the Hib/MenC vaccine, the JCVI is recommending that an additional dose of the Hib-containing multivalent vaccine should be offered at 12 or 18 months of age and that the second dose of the MMR vaccine should be brought forward from 3 years 4 months to 18 months of age.

Childhood immunisation schedule

Including a dose of a MenC-containing vaccine in the infant schedule was not currently being recommended by the committee. The JCVI said that the success of the teenage MenACWY programme and reduced disease as a result of the pandemic meant that 'direct protection in infancy may not need to be maintained' because of herd immunity.

The committee has requested additional modelling data on whether vaccination against MenC is still required in the childhood schedule.

The JCVI said it had considered numerous options on how the vaccination schedule could change, including the use of single Hib-only containing vaccines to replace the Hib/MenC dose. However, it said 'available supply of single Hib-only is unlikely to be sustainable in the longer term as it is not used elsewhere in Europe'.

HPV vaccination

In relation to the HPV programme, the JCVI said that the 'evidence is now very strong that one dose provides similar protection to that induced by two doses'.

The committee said that if the UK governments agree to the change to the HPV immunisation schedule, it would likely come into effect from the 2023 to 2024 academic year.

The JCVI said men who have sex with men, who are eligible to receive the HPV vaccine up until the age of 45, should continue to receive two doses if they are aged 25 or over. Individuals who are immunosuppressed or who are HIV positive should receive three doses.

Dr Vanessa Saliba, consultant epidemiologist at UKHSA said: 'We know that the HPV vaccine offers excellent protection against cervical cancer and should also prevent a range of other cancers in women and men. The advice from the JCVI is based on compelling evidence that shows one dose of the HPV vaccine is just as effective as two doses and this aligns with recent advice from the World Health Organization.

'The advice has now been published and we will make sure that we work with the NHS and health partners to support the roll out of any changes to the programme.

'We urge everyone who is eligible to take up this potentially life-saving vaccine when it is offered. Those who have missed out can catch up until their 25th birthday.'

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