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New vaccine to beat rotavirus
All babies in Scotland born on or after May 1 this year will be offered vaccination against rotavirus.
Rotavirus causes severe diarrhoea and vomiting in babies and young children, and can lead to dehydration that requires hospital treatment.
The introduction of the rotavirus vaccine follows a recommendation of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation. The vaccine will be part of the routine childhood immunisation programme and mainly given in GP surgeries.
Minister for Public Health Michael Matheson said: “The rotavirus vaccine has already been given safely to millions of babies around the world.
“Currently in Scotland, around 1,200 babies have to go to hospital every year due to severe diarrhoea and vomiting caused by rotavirus, and in some of the most serious cases that can result in a hospital stay.
“The vaccine will not only protect tens of thousands of children from the effects of rotavirus every year, it will cut down on costly hospital admissions and the anxiety of hospital stays for parents and children.”
Rotavirus is the first in a number of forthcoming additions to immunisation programmes. Childhood immunisation in Scotland is highly successful and a key contributor to protecting our public health.
A two dose vaccine will be offered routinely to all babies aged two months, and again at three months when they attend for their first and second routine childhood immunisations. The rotavirus vaccine, Rotarix®, is given orally as a liquid and protects against the most common strains of rotavirus. It is not a new vaccine and has been used extensively with millions of doses having been given to babies in other countries. More information can is available from Immunisation Scotland
As with any vaccine or medicine newly introduced in the UK, the Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Agency will closely monitor the use of the Rotarix® vaccine.
The introduction of the rotavirus programme is part of a wider programme of changes to the routine immunisation programme in Scotland. They are:
- From June 2013, changes to the current schedule for administering the Meningitis C vaccine
- From September 2013, the introduction of a shingles vaccine for people aged 70 and 79 years to protect against shingles
- From autumn 2013, a phased rollout of the new childhood flu programme – the extension of the seasonal flu programme to all children aged two to 17 years. The programme will be phased over the next two to three years.