So changes have just been announced to the UK routine immunisation schedule for all kids. But what are they and why? Here's a quick guide...
The current measles scare in the UK has hopefully taught us one important thing: we need to make sure that as many children as possible are properly immunised and protected.
The immunisation schedule in the UK is designed to protect against lots of preventable and potentially serious infections, and it is reviewed regularly to make sure that it is up-to-date and effective. This means tweaking the schedule so that the right immunisations are given at the best times, as well as making sure any important new ones are included.
So from 2013, we will be seeing some changes:
- A new vaccine for Rotavirus is being offered at 2 and 3 months. Rotavirus is the commonest cause of diarrhoes and vomiting in children - and can be severe enough to cause hospitalisation and even death. The new vaccine will be taken by mouth - so no injections!
- The 2nd dose of the current Meningitis C vaccine is being moved from 4 months to the teenage years. This is because for the vast majority, one dose is enough protection as an infant, but we need to give better protection to teenagers (a group that we know is at higher risk of the disease).
- A new 'Flu vaccine for kids aged between 2 and 16 years will be offered - we don't know exactly when this is going to happen yet. The idea is to not just protect children themselves, but also those vulnerable ones around them (because we know that the condition is passed around by children so easily). This vaccine is in the form of a nasal spray - so again, no more injections!
There is also talk of adding in a new Meningitis B vaccine into the schedule as this is now the biggest cause of serious meningitis. These plans are in their early stages and we should hear more later in the year.
You can see a summary of these changes and the new UK immunisation schedule here: New Immunisation Schedule
Remember: the schedule is changing so that everyone is better protected from preventable diseases, and making sure that enough children get their routine immunisations is the only way it will work! Immunisations are safe and important - be wise, immunise!