Health Chiefs Urge Diseases Jab

Health chiefs in Wales are launching a campaign urging parents to have their children vaccinated against infections which cause meningitis and pneumonia. From Monday, every child up to the age of two will be offered the pneumococcal disease vaccine. Up to 50 children aged under two in Wales and England die from pneumococcal infections each year.

Welsh Health Minister Brian Gibbons said: “Immunisation is the best way to protect children from serious disease.”

GPs are to begin contacting families from this week but health service bosses are already urging parents to take advantage of the vaccination.

Chief Medical Officer for Wales Dr Tony Jewell said: “We have already seen the immense impact this programme has had in the US. Since its introduction, infections in young children caused by the strains in the vaccine have fallen by 94%.

“Children under two are at the highest risk. Approximately 5,000 cases of invasive pneumococcal disease occur in Wales and England each year, around 530 of these in children under two and about a third are cases of pneumococcal meningitis.”

“Estimates vary but as many as 50 children under two lose their lives from serious pneumococcal infections in Wales and England each year.”

There will also be a catch up campaign for children up to two years old who have already started their immunisations

Welsh Minister Brian Gibbons, a qualified GP, said the routine childhood vaccination programme had been extremely effective in protecting children from serious disease.

He said: “This new vaccine will help save lives and prevent hundreds more cases of serious illness such as meningitis and pneumonia.”