MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 26, 2016

PHE announces new additions to U.K. vaccination program

The United Kingdom Department of Health, Public Health England and the National Health Service England announced multiple changes on Tuesday to the current vaccination schedule including the introduction of three new vaccines.

The new vaccination schedule will include vaccines against rotavirus, shingles and flu. It will also update the schedule for the meningitis C vaccine.

The rotavirus vaccination program will begin on July 1 when children under the age of four months will be routinely vaccinated against the diarrhea-causing illness. Rotavirus is responsible for approximately 140,000 general practitioner visits and 14,000 hospitalizations in the U.K. every year.

"The introduction of the oral rotavirus vaccine in the U.S. and parts of Europe has had a major impact on preventing young children from developing this unpleasant vomiting and diarrheal disease," Mary Ramsay, the head of immunization at PHE, said. "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 hospitalizations. We are excited to be offering this vaccine as part of the national infant immunization program in the U.K."

Additionally, two-year-olds will be offered a nasal flu vaccine starting in September and people aged 70 or older will be offered a shingles vaccine. A new booster shot will be given to 14-year-olds for meningitis C as a replacement for the vaccine dose given at four months of age.

"As well as the rotavirus vaccine for infants, the upcoming introduction of childhood influenza and adolescent MenC immunization programs along with routine vaccination against shingles for older adults will all continue to contribute to our highly successful vaccination program which we can boast in the U.K," Ramsay said.