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 49.

    @41 - the point is that the 20M saved is only the tip of the NHS iceberg - my daughter has had this twice in a year -it is utterly awful - she gave it to me too -so I had 2 weeks off work each time. It's not just 'the squits' unless you've been there you have no idea - A single Mum (have a go Daily Mail), work full-time and manage a 2-year old -Rotavirus may not kill but it's debilitating & costly

  • rate this

    Comment number 48.

    8 The Mighty Thor
    "...why mercury and numerous other "chemicals" are in current vaccines."

    There has never been any mercury in any vaccine ever. That'd be stupid. And why did you put the word "chemicals" in inverted commas? Literally everything is a chemical.

    Chemistry should become mandatory study, astonishing how many ill-informed people know better than those that dedicate their lives to it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 47.

    If you are whinging about spending a net £5 million a year to prevent 140,000 babies suffering pain each year, then shame on you, Also you forgot the knock on effects. "Rarely fatal" is not "Never fatal" If only 10 out of the 140,000 die then that is heartbreak for 10 families. NHS bed blocking by sick babies can mean other babies with other illnesses can have treatment delayed.

  • rate this

    Comment number 46.

    I want to see a thorough independent analysis of every vaccine and drug before it is sold. I want to see public-sector scientists with no profit to gain carry out a full analysis of the DNA and protein contents of these vaccines. I want all the mechanisms and modes of action to be openly published - no trade secrets. I want pharmaceutical science fully subjected to the rigors of peer-review.

  • rate this

    Comment number 45.

    In response to Ian L, number 41, the £20m is a net saving. In other words, the expectation is that the NHS spends £25m and saves £45m.

  • rate this

    Comment number 44.

    The number of illnesses that threaten us must run into thousands. Furthermore, different strains evolve as 'nature' fights back.

    We are capable of handling most naturally occurring illnesses but are not equipped to handle processed food, modern lifestyles, & the cocktail of drugs & antibiotics that so called 'experts' deem necessary for survival.

    Soon we'll be vaccinated against vaccinations!

  • rate this

    Comment number 43.

    I am concerned that such small infants are being given 27 vaccines before they are a year old. What about the side effects mingling so many together at such a young age. I hope parents will exercise caution and ask a lot of questions.

  • Comment number 42.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this

    Comment number 41.

    So the cost is £25M and it will only save £20M, whats the point?

    What about the costs for the side effects?

    I'd rather the money was spent on cancer research, something worthwhile. EVERYONE gets the squits at some point.

  • rate this

    Comment number 40.

    12 What Mandate
    "It is all vary well filling babies with drugs to protect them, but that is not how evolution really works!"

    I think it's you that doesn't understand how evolution works. The only way we could pass on immunities to future generations is to let those that aren't naturally immune die. That seems a bit heartless!

  • rate this

    Comment number 39.

    If it's going to cost £25 million a year I want a little better description than 'tummy bug'. What's it's proper name? What are the causes? Is it contagious? Is this vaccine going to be found to be dangerous in 20 years time?
    It's probably an antidepressant to keep junior from becoming a rioter, or worse, (in the eyes of the gov't) an independent thinker..

  • rate this

    Comment number 38.

    So, best guess is it will cost £5mil to avoid a non-life threatening illness. Great, I'm all for avoiding nasty bugs that make you feel unwell, but perhaps this can wait until we have a spare £5mil and a few mil in change since cost predictions are rarely accurate and cost will likely significantly increase.

  • rate this

    Comment number 37.

    One child admitted with the virus needs very special care, due both to their age and vulnerability, but also due to the possibility of cross contamination causing infection in other children. If a vaccination makes medical sense, both for the infected child and others, then it should be given.

  • rate this

    Comment number 36.

    The comments below astound me. Vaccines are one of the most wonderful successes of science, saving tens (or hundreds?) of millions of lives and massively reducing suffering around the world. They are the reason we can live our lives free of the curses of smallpox, polio, rubella, diphtheria, measles and countless other illnesses. I suppose it is easy to be scared of things you don't understand...

  • rate this

    Comment number 35.

    Well said, welleducated! What a load of rubbish people do believe! (i blame the internet!) Just for the record, there is no longer any mercury in any childhood vaccine (hasn't been for many years), vaccines INCREASE immunity, and yes, they are rigorously tested. They save far more money than they cost and NO-ONE is forced to have them!
    How rotten of the mean old WHO to want to reduce suffering!

  • rate this

    Comment number 34.

    BBC, why are all my comments being placed in the mod queue?

    We are constantly told by this government they can't afford to feed the poor. Why then, are they so intent on making the mortality rates of the poor, higher? Isn't this contradictory to their very own policies, or are they just out to make the suffering of the slaves last as long as possible?

    Why are taxes funding natural tummyache?

  • rate this

    Comment number 33.

    If you love children watch this and be informed

    The greater good - vaccines

  • rate this

    Comment number 32.

    Another vaccination, there killing you softly people.

  • rate this

    Comment number 31.

    not immunising children against serious, potentially life-threatening illnesses is ridiculous though, Brighton has had a measles epidemic because of parents still nervous about the MMR, seriously how many times do studies have to be done to show it's safe before folk get a grip and protect their children?!

  • rate this

    Comment number 30.

    I'm surprised that this treatment is still available on our once-great NHS.

    I don't suppose it will be, once Jeremy Hunt has finished his stealth privatisation of the NHS.


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