The Department of Health, Public Health England (PHE) and NHS
England has today announced a series of changes to the current vaccination schedule to include three new vaccination programmes, which protect against flu, shingles and rotavirus, as well as updating the current meningitis C vaccine schedule.
There will also be a shingles vaccination programme introduced for people aged 70, with a catch-up programme for those aged up to, and including, 79 years. Shingles is an infection of a nerve that causes pain and a rash along a band of skin by the affected nerve.
The infection is caused by the herpes varicella-zoster virus, which also causes chickenpox. Following chickenpox infection, the virus can lie dormant in the nervous tissue but may reappear following reactivation as shingles. The programme will begin in September 2013 and it is estimated that around 800,000 people in the UK will be eligible for the vaccine in the first year.
The current schedule for protecting people against meningitis C will also be updated. A new teenage booster jab given at age 12-13 will replace the vaccine dose that is currently given at 4 months of age – as evidence shows the routine four-month meningitis C vaccine dose is no longer required. The teenage booster jab will be offered in the 2013/14 academic year.
Dr Mary Ramsay, Head of Immunisation at Public Health England said:
The introduction of the oral Rotavirus vaccine in the US and parts of Europe has had a major impact on preventing young children from developing this unpleasant vomiting and diarrhoeal disease. The vaccine is very easy to administer and involves placing a droplet of liquid into the babies’ mouths. In the countries where the vaccine has already been introduced, the uptake has been high and has resulted in rapid and sustained reductions in childhood rotavirus hospitalisations. We are excited to be offering this vaccine as part of the national infant immunisation programme in the UK.
As well as the rotavirus vaccine for infants, the upcoming introduction of childhood influenza and adolescent MenC immunisation programmes along with routine vaccination against shingles for older adults will all continue to contribute to our highly successful vaccination programme which we can boast in the UK.
The decisions to introduce the new vaccination programmes and updates to existing programmes were made after the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation – a working group of independent vaccine experts – studied all the available evidence and advised that these changes are made to protect more people against disease.
Notes to editors
For further information about the new vaccination schedule please see the Department of Health announcement.