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NHS GREATER GLASGOW AND CLYDE FIRST TO START NEW ROUTINE IMMUNISATION PROGRAMME

September 12, 2006 11:18 AM

Important changes have been made to the routine immunisation programme for children and NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde is one of the first Boards in Scotland to get the new programme up and running.

The changes have been introduced to ensure that young children are offered protection against serious preventable diseases, including measles and meningitis, as early as possible.

But what does this mean for parents?The new routine will mean that infants will be offered different combinations of vaccines at two, three and four months, with a total of three injections being offered at four months of age.

Dr Syed Ahmed, Consultant in Public Health Medicine hopes parents will take the opportunity to get their children vaccinated.

He said:"Parents will be receiving letters and information leaflets inviting them to bring their children along for vaccination and it's important that infants are vaccinated earlier rather than later offering them protection against serious diseases.

"Any parents with any concerns can either contact their health visitor or their local GP who will be able to answer any questions they may have."

ENDS

Notes to Editors

Q. What is the start date for the new programme?

A. 4th September 2006

Q. When will the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine catch-up programme end?

A. Feb 2007

Q. Why are changes to the immunisation programme being made now?

A. These changes are being made now to ensure that young children in this country are offered protection against serious vaccine-preventable diseases. New vaccines are developed and licensed, for example pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV). Research has shown that longer-term protection against Hib and meningococcal C disease is achieved by modifying the existing programme.

Q. What if a child has already started their vaccination course, how do they complete their immunisations?

A. Children should complete their vaccination course according to the new vaccination schedule

Q. Can three injections be given at one visit – is it safe?

A. Yes. Three injections can be given at the same time with no additional adverse effects from such a procedure. If the child is upset or cries a little, a cuddle often helps.In the US, babies are sometimes given four injections at one visit.

Q. Where will the third injection be given?

A. It is recommended that children aged four months receive two jabs in one thigh, and one jab in the other.

Q. Why not give one of these vaccines at a later date?

A. Vaccinations should be completed according to the recommended schedule because it ensures that children are fully protected from serious disease as early as possible. The department of Health recommends that 3 vaccines be given at the same time.

Q. Will these extra injections overload a child's immune system?

A. No. There is no scientific or medical evidence suggesting that immunisations in any way overload the immune system of infants.

Hib/MenC vaccine

Q. Why the change to the MenC vaccine schedule?

A. Studies have shown that two dose of MenC in the first year of life provides the same level of protection as three doses. This new schedule of a booster at 12 months provides children with longer-term protection against meningococcal disease.

Q. Why the change to the Hib vaccine schedule?

A. Evidence has shown that to ensure that Hib disease levels remain low and the protection offered to children continues well into their childhood, an additional booster dose of Hib vaccine is needed in the second year of life.

Q. What about older children who won't have received PCV or a booster dose of Hib/MenC?

A. Pneumococcal and Hib are significantly less common or less serious in older children. However, if someone under 25 years of age presents with no history of vaccination against meningococcal C disease they should be offered MenC. Hib should be offered to unimmunised children up to the age of 10 years.

Q. Is this a one-off booster campaign or permanent booster dose?

A. It's permanent

Pneumococcal vaccine

Q. Does the PCV booster have to be given at same time as MMR? Can't it be delayed?

A. We do not recommend delaying either PCV or MMR because the aim is to protect children as soon as possible.

Q. How do we know it is safe to have PCV at the same time as MMR vaccine?

A.MMR vaccine and PCV have been given together routinely as part of the US childhood immunisation programme since 2000. Its safety has been closely monitored and it has an excellent safety profile.

Q. What does PCV protect against and how effective is it?

A. It protects against 7 common strains of pneumococcal bacteria responsible for ~ 80% invasive pneumococcal disease in young children. In clinical trials it has been shown to be 96% effective in preventing IPD caused by the 7 serotypes in the vaccine.

Q. How long does protection from pneumococcal vaccine last?

A. PCV has been used in USA since 2000 and so far has provided good protection against pneumococcal disease.

Q. Is this the same vaccine that is given to people over 65 years of age?

A. No. The vaccine for older people is a polysaccharide vaccine (PneumovaxR) that protects against 23 common pneumococcal strains. The vaccine is not suitable for children under 2 years of age as it doesn't produce a good immune response.

For further information contact 0141 201 4429.

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