THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 29, 2016

England offers vaccine for infants against rotavirus

England began offering a new rotavirus vaccine to infants on Monday to protect approximately 675,000 babies each year from the most common cause of gastroenteritis among children under the age of five.

England introduced Rotarix as one of multiple new or amended vaccination programs being introduced by Public Health England this year, in partnership with the National Health Service England and the Department of Health. Other vaccines will include protection against influenza, meningococcal group C and shingles.

"Rotavirus is a highly infectious and unpleasant illness that affects thousands of young children each year," Paul Cosford, the medical director at PHE, said. "While most recover within a few days, nearly one in five will need to see their doctor, and one in 10 will end up in hospital as a result. Although good hygiene measures can help prevent spread of the disease, the best way to protect your baby from catching rotavirus is to get them vaccinated."

Rotarix will be given orally to infants at two and three months of age. PHE said it hopes the vaccine will cut the number of rotavirus cases each year in half and result in 70 percent fewer hospital stays.

"The new vaccine will provide protection to those young babies who are most vulnerable to complications arising from rotavirus," Cosford said. "From now on parents will be offered this protection alongside their baby's other childhood vaccinations."