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.

Distress

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
    +3

    Comment number 230.

    Remember that you have a choice as to whether to vaccinate or not. The rotovirus vaccine's given by drops, so supposedly contains no mercury.
    Rotovirus can be a nasty disease, but the natural immune system needs to be able to do its job. The drug companies make millions from these vaccines, but the long-term side effects aren't known.

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 166.

    I welcome any vaccine that saves lives and stops infectious diseases spreading in chlldren and adults. Having nursed my children through this bug last year and this year, winter sickness bug I have to say that the knock on effect will save more than £20 million, in time off work, school classes being cut and overall misery. Bring it on. Winter is bad enough with yucky tummy bugs each year.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 152.

    It is natural for parents to want to do all they can to protect their children but they all too easily fall into the grasp of the pharmaceutical industry pushing its wears. By all means vaccinate your child but be sure you have read in detail all the independent case studies on the vaccination (not the advertisements big pharma roll out) before doing so.
    Vaccines are being pushed very heavily now.

  • rate this
    +8

    Comment number 119.

    Having seen a 2 month old fighting for her life with rotavirus I pray that no-one else has to go through that. She cam through but only with dedicated pediatric nursing 24 hours a day. I welcome the injection.

  • rate this
    +10

    Comment number 116.

    My daughter was hospitalised with Rotavirus when she was 16 months old. She got so dehydrated she was unconscious and put on a drip. It was incredibly frightening and distressing for her and our whole family. She was discharged after 3 days, a stay that would have cost far more than her having the vaccine. I welcome the vaccine.

 

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