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 269.

    37 Minutes ago

    The efficacy of vaccines cannot be reduced to one generation, nor outside the context in which they have been seen to work.

    Vaccines dirctly protect the vaccinated subject and provide a measure of "herd immunity" depending upon the dynamics of infection by the target pathogen.

  • Comment number 268.

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

  • Comment number 267.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 266.

    @264 Um not we don't "know that" at all. Disturb the balance of the immune system? What does that even mean? It's pseudo-scientific mumbo-jumbo. It's already been stated what a vaccine is. To your body it's the same as catching the disease, so it can learn to fight it, except without the downside, ie the disease's symptoms.

  • rate this

    Comment number 265.

    264. Sorrel

    'We already know that infant immunisations disturb the balance of the immune system'. No. We know that it has that effect on a small number of children. It's a bit like in the USA where car safety seats were implicated in the deaths of two babies. Result ... thousands of people stopped using the safety seats. It's a common but illogical response.

  • rate this

    Comment number 264.

    We already know that infant immunisations disturb the balance of the immune system, making the child more susceptible to allergies and other auto-immune disorders. I wish I'd known this when my children were small - both my husband and I are atopic, and my eldest has both eczema and asthma. Buyer beware!

  • rate this

    Comment number 263.

    218. Weare Just Universaldust

    "Oh dear, please do compare 26 injections UK, with Africa/Asia, developing/3rd world & see whos children LIVE, its so OBVIOUS"

    Oh dear it's just so obvious, sanitation, clean water, sterile environment, fresh food, in competition it is so obvious that third world countries do not fare as well.

  • rate this

    Comment number 262.

    Rotavirus infections can kill children - it is rare but it happens.
    For this reason I wold not hesitate to immunise my child, providing of course there is no evidence that the vaccination is harmful....

    This way the immune system is primed to the pathogens, and the risk of serious illness is vastly reduced.
    You are not bypassing your immune system, you are giving it a heads-up.

  • rate this

    Comment number 261.

    257 mollocate - Is it not self-explanatory? An inert virus is one that is effectively dead and can no longer reproduce, therefore cannot cause illness. However it still contains the same genetic material as the live virus, therefore the body's immune system can learn how to effectively deal with it.
    You also claimed earlier that vaccines are drugs - this is not the case at all.

  • rate this

    Comment number 260.

    257. mollocate

    'If only that was the case. 'Inert Viruses'? Please expand.'

    The vaccine in a vaccination contains either a "dead" (inactive), or a weakened (attenuated) form of the potential invading microbe (viral or bacterial). It says 'dead' in inverted commas because science has still not established if viruses are actually living organisms in the sense we understand.

  • Comment number 259.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 258.

    I might have known it wouldn't be lone before MMR was mentioned. The supposed "connection" to it and Autism was completely discredited a long time ago and yet people still keep banging on about like it was established fact.

  • rate this

    Comment number 257.

    Drunken Hobo

    If only that was the case. 'Inert Viruses'? Please expand. :)

  • rate this

    Comment number 256.

    250. adriansmith

    '... vaccinating does little for their immune systems.'

    You're confusing vaccines with antibiotics. Vaccines work by boosting the immune system into action, almost the opposite of the problem you claim.

  • rate this

    Comment number 255.

    Andrew Wakefield has just published his take on the MMR Autism story. Good to read 2 sides of this story.

    The efficacy of vaccines cannot be reduced to one generation, nor outside the context in which they have been seen to work.

  • rate this

    Comment number 254.

    250 adriansmith - You, and many others, seem to be confusing over-sterilisation with vaccinations.
    Over-sterilisation is when you clean everything obsessively with Dettol, denying your children from picking up low levels of bacteria that would otherwise improve immunity.
    Vaccinations are the introduction of inert viruses that improve immunity without the risk of contracting the disease.

  • rate this

    Comment number 253.

    How many people ask for antibiotics?
    Ive got a chest infection,no you dont u have a cold or virus.
    Do you believe the draughts player or chess player??
    Which one is playing what???

  • rate this

    Comment number 252.

    I Wikki'd rotavirus and find that it is yet another example of a third world disease caused by unsanitary habits. However, we are now stuck with it so it seems we have to counter it with another vaccination, (a short term solution).
    It seems this vaccination is just fire-fighting but I don't know the answer.

  • rate this

    Comment number 251.

    My logic was wrong in earlier post. Defended short term benefits of vaccination and then compared this to long term benefits of not being vaccinated. From a different perspective, We should be careful about how we lump together vaccinations. Vaccinations are drugs.Pharma chooses profits over any idea of human health. What is our idea of health? What is health? By drug companies or by us?

  • rate this

    Comment number 250.

    Kids get ill its part of growing up, rapping them in cotton wool by vaccinating does little for there immune systems, illnesses can strengthen and yes some vaccinating is important but where do you draw the line. Bottom line is perants have the choice. Professionals need taking sometimes with a pinch of salt, as they are not always right as Ive seen in many court rooms, they can cause more damage.


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