The federal government’s vaccination program targets a leading cause of death in infants.
A national vaccination program to protect children from the potentially fatal pneumococcal disease is to be rolled out from this month.
Pneumococcal disease remains the most common vaccine-preventable cause of death in children under five years of age worldwide.
Professor Robert Booy, a Paediatrician from the Children’s Hospital Westmead Sydney, said the infection was a leading cause of meningitis, pneumonia, otitis media and septicaemia in children.
Health professionals are being urged to ensure infants in the community receive their supplementary dose of the new vaccine.
“Immunisers should act without delay and reach out to the parents of eligible children so children have the opportunity to be vaccinated with the updated version,” said Booy.
The supplementary dose program for infants aged 12 to 35 months targets children who have already been immunised with the previous pneumococcal vaccine, Prevenar.
The new vaccine, Prevenar 13, will help protect against 13 strains of the bacteria that causes serious disease in children – six more than the previous vaccine which was rolled out for all infants in 2005.
As a result of the first vaccine, disease rates in Australian children under two years of age dropped by 25 per cent.
Prevenar 13 is provided free under the government’s national immunisation program and is to be rolled out from this month.
In Australia, pneumococcal disease is a cause of serious illness among children under five years of age causing hundreds of children to be hospitalised every year.
It is estimated the disease claims the lives of approximately 826,000 deaths in children worldwide and can leave those affected with disabilities such as cerebral palsy, epilepsy, deafness and an inability to walk or talk.
The federal government announced in this year’s budget that it would fund a 12-month supplemental dose program for the vaccine.
Children will be eligible for the supplemental dose until 30 September 2012.Do you have an idea for a story?
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