Pneumococcal jab saves children's lives

The DoH has called for more children to be vaccinated with the pneumococcal vaccine after figures revealed that one in seven children have yet to receive the jab.

The pneumococcal vaccine was introduced in September 2006 into the childhood immunisation programme in England and Wales for children under two.

Since its launch, 300 cases of serious illness such as meningitis, septicaemia and severe pneumonia have been prevented.

Of these 300 cases, it is estimated that 17 children would have died and about 30 would have been left with a permanent disability.

But Health Protection Agency figures for uptake of the vaccine reveal that only 86 per cent of children have been vaccinated with the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine, leaving one in seven children without protection.

Dr David Salisbury, DoH director of immunisation, said that more children should be vaccinated because the uptake of the new vaccine remains lower than for vaccines for other illnesses.

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