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Flu vaccine for two year olds
Vaccination programme starts this year to protect against flu and diarrhoea
30th April 2013 - Around 650,000 children aged two in the UK will be offered a flu vaccine from September this year as part of a shake-up to the immunisation schedule.
The Department of Health says it will also pilot a small number of trials to vaccinate primary and pre-school children to test whether the NHS can roll out a national vaccination programme for these age groups next year.
A second wave of pilot schemes are planned for 2014 in preparation for rolling out the flu vaccination programme to all secondary school children aged up to 16 or 17 in 2015.
The two year olds will receive the vaccine - Fluenz - via a nasal spray rather than the traditional flu jab in the arm.
Diarrhoea and vomiting bug
Additionally, a programme will begin in July this year to vaccinate some babies against rotavirus - a highly infectious bug that causes around 140,000 cases of diarrhoea each year in children under five.
The virus leads to hospital stays for nearly one in 10 - around 14,000 - of those who get it in the UK. It is estimated that the rotavirus vaccine will halve the number of vomiting and diarrhoea cases caused by rotavirus and there could be 70% fewer hospital stays as a result.
The two dose rotavirus vaccine - Rotarix - will be offered to all babies at the age of two months and again at three months when they are taken for their first and second routine childhood immunisations. The babies will receive the vaccination via a liquid dropped into their mouths.
Cutting hospital admissions
Dr Mary Ramsay, head of immunisation at Public Health England, says in a statement: "The introduction of the oral Rotavirus vaccine in the US and parts of Europe has had a major impact on preventing young children from developing this unpleasant vomiting and diarrhoeal disease."
She continues: "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 hospitalisations. We are excited to be offering this vaccine as part of the national infant immunisation programme in the UK."
The Department of Health has also announced changes to the vaccination schedule for protecting against meningitis C. A new teenage booster jab given when children are 12 or 13 will replace the booster that is currently given at four months old.