Babies to get 'gut bug vaccine'


Prof David Salisbury, Director of Immunisation, DoH: "We expect this will save around £20m"

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Babies in the UK are to be vaccinated against a tummy bug which causes tens of thousands of cases of vomiting and diarrhoea each year.

Rotavirus infection is rarely fatal in the UK.

Using the vaccine has cut cases and reduced hospital admissions in other countries, including the US.

The Department of Health said the vaccine would be offered from September 2013 and would be given in two doses after two and three months.

Childhood vaccines

Two months

  • Five-in-one: first dose for diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, polio and Haemophilus influenzae type b jab
  • Pneumococcal infection
  • Rotavirus from September 2013

Three months

  • Second five-in-one
  • Meningitis C
  • Second rotavirus from September 2013

Four months

  • Third five-in-one
  • Second Pneumococcal infection
  • Second meningitis C

One year

  • MMR
  • Third Pneumococcal infection
  • Booster for Haemophilus influenzae type b and meningitis C

Source: NHS Choices

The bug is very infectious and causes about 140,000 cases every year in the under-fives. About 14,000 will need hospital treatment.

Experts believe that vaccination would cut the number of cases in half and lead to 70% fewer hospital visits.


Prof David Salisbury, the director of immunisation at the Department of Health, said the virus "spreads very easily" and causes distress for children and families.

"Many people think of diarrhoea as something that all children get and that you have to put up with. But there is a way to protect children from this. I'd encourage all parents of young children to accept this vaccine when the programme begins next year."

He added the vaccine - which is administered in drops - had been "used very extensively" with "huge trials demonstrating both its safety and its effectiveness".

It is expected to cost £25m a year to vaccinate 840,000 children a year. However, the government believes cutting the number of cases will save the NHS £20m.

Prof Adam Finn, from the University of Bristol, said: "Rotavirus causes large epidemics of diarrhoea and vomiting in babies and young children every winter and with it, misery for thousands of families across the country.

"I'm pleased that another unpleasant illness that affects most children is going to be brought under control. It will also help hospitals cope in the busy winter months by reducing pressure on beds and front-line staff."

Dr David Elliman, from the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said the vaccine would prevent a "huge amount of suffering" and save the NHS money.

"This vaccine will mean less pressure both on distressed parents who have to care for their children and of course the GPs and hospital services who are treating them," he said.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 29.

    @8. The Mighty Thor

    Mercury is in some vaccines essentially as an antibiotic. At the doses given, it is not potent enough to have any effect on human cells but will attack bacterial and fungal cells with reasonable efficacy. It is on this principle that all drugs work. Regardless, there is no proof mercury has any ill effects (See Pubmed:17168158) in vaccines.

  • rate this

    Comment number 28.


    "It is actually you who has very little understanding of vaccines. Immunologists know exactly what they are doing"..."is so simple my 16 year old son it taught it at school."

    Oh really? Would you (or you son) like to explain what an adjuvant does? Because the molecular reason for injecting aluminium salts is very poorly understood and is an area of active research.

  • rate this

    Comment number 27.

    Rotavirus kills an estimated 400 000 children a year, mostly in the LEDW. It is WHO that have recommended the inclusion of this vaccine in national immunisation programs. However, is it needed here? I don't know. I would like to see the de-privatisation of science - bring back the university academics with public research funds and no external bias, instead of closed-door corporate-owned science.

  • rate this

    Comment number 26.

    It's impossible to protect children from *every* illness - immunity can only be built up by having illnesses and then developing our own antibodies.

    I am very sceptical about the wisdom of giving small babies so many vaccines. We don't have any reliable data about long-term health repercussions and it'll be a bit late in 100 years time to say "Vaccine xxx from 2012 was a big mistake".

  • rate this

    Comment number 25.

    @ 6,

    Flu vaccines are not routinely offered to children and are unlikely to be before 2014, so unsure of what your point about that is?
    It is horrible to see a child unwell but it isn't a life-threatening illness, so I shall pass on this one

  • rate this

    Comment number 24.

    Prevention is always better than cure, and even if cost benefits are marginal, it will still allow existing health facilities to be used on more needy cases.

    It isn't compulsory, if you want your kid to get Rotavirus you’re at liberty to do so.

    Some will argue it ‘isn’t natural’ but they also tend to be the first to complain as soon as any preventable disease affects their loved ones.

  • rate this

    Comment number 23.

    What a ridiculous idea. While D&V viruses are messy & virulent, they're rarely life threatening. The 'experts' are encouraging parents to fill their kids full of noxious substances but I don't believe that any research has been done in to the long term effects of the mixture of these substances on people.

  • rate this

    Comment number 22.

    This is a truly worrying development, children being vaccinated by the state to save NHS £20m.

    NHS reorganisation in England is estimated at a cost of £1.7billion, largely a reorganisation that no professional body or patient wanted. Those who govern us and the DoH lost the plot.

  • rate this

    Comment number 21.

    @10. Vampire

    It is actually you who has very little understanding of vaccines. Immunologists know exactly what they are doing and the whole concept (identifying and creating memory cells for antigens) is so simple my 16 year old son it taught it at school. As for the testing it is just a thorough as any other medical procedure.

  • rate this

    Comment number 20.

    One day the common cold will be the death of us.
    We will have no immunity you see.

  • Comment number 19.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 18.

    Invest some money in prevention, find out the reasons why children are not immune. Is it because our children are being bought up in such a sterile world that every slightest mutation of a bug becomes life threatening. Also worldwide travel brings worldwide diseases, some of them are deadly, it's impossible to vaccinate against all of them.

  • rate this

    Comment number 17.

    And how much will GPs get per child vaccinated by members of their staff? I guess they will have to be offered incentives to push these things.

  • rate this

    Comment number 16.

    Oh great, child owners costing us more money again.

  • rate this

    Comment number 15.

    'Babies in the UK are to be vaccinated against A TUMMY BUG which causes tens of thousands of cases of vomiting and diarrhoea each year.'

    Journalistic language at it's finest(!)

  • rate this

    Comment number 14.

    @2. James StGeorge

    The £20 million back is purely from the NHS. If you add the number of working days parents lose to their kids being sick then the maths really quickly works out.

  • rate this

    Comment number 13.

    Such cynical and mean comments. If it cost £25m but brought no NHS savings it would still be worth the money. This virus brings discomfort and sometimes death every year.

    #5 FishFingers - One day, in your old age you will be looked after by other people's children.

  • rate this

    Comment number 12.

    This is more complex than it first seems. It is all vary well filling babies with drugs to protect them, but that is not how evolution really works!

    Our good intentions today may not be welcomed by future generations who may find that they are are all more susceptible as a result.

    We are already seeing problems with the overuse of antibiotics. I would like to see more research in this area.

  • rate this

    Comment number 11.

    Who knows what exactly is in this vaccine? The Merck RotaTeq vaccine was found to be contaminated by porcine circovirus DNA. There is evidence that HIV may have entered the human population through a contaminant in a vaccine used in trials (the vaccine was allegedly developed using chimpanzees). The trouble is, why should people trust Big Pharma when it can not be trusted to do non-bias science?

  • rate this

    Comment number 10.

    Vaccines are the most poorly understood therapeutic that exists. They are not held to the same standards of testing as a molecular drug would be. In vaccine development, constructs are just thrown together and we rarely even question what is happening at the molecular/cellular level. It is incredible how little we actually understand about the immune system. Immunologists need to sort this out.


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