Improved vaccination programme announced

The Department of Health, in partnership with NHS England and Public Health England, has announced a number of improvements to the vaccination programme to protect against flu, meningitis C, shingles and diarrhoea.

From July this year a new rotavirus vaccination programme will start for children under four months. Rotavirus is a highly infectious bug that causes around 140,000 diarrhoea cases a year in under-fives and leads to hospital stays for nearly one in ten.

In September a shingles vaccination programme will begin for people aged 70, with a catch-up programme for those aged up to, and including, 79. It is estimated that 800,000 people will be eligible for the vaccine in the first year, which will prevent nearly 40 per cent of the 30,000 cases seen every year in people over 70.

Around 650,000 children aged two will be offered a nasal flu vaccine from September 2013 and a small number of pilots to vaccinate primary and pre-school aged children will run in some areas. The current arrangement for protecting people against meningitis C will also be changed as a new teenage booster jab will be given at age 12-13, replacing the one given at four months old.

These changes to the immunisation programme in 2013-14 will be implemented following a series of recommendations by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) to improve the overall level of protection against preventable diseases.

A letter announcing the changes to the overall programme and the specific rotavirus immunisation can be viewed on the Government website.

All the publications and resources regarding the rotavirus vaccination schedule can be found here.

The changes also follow the publishing of an update to the detailed agreement between the Department of Health and NHS England on the delivery of certain public health functions, which will drive improvements in the health of England’s population.

Information on Meningitis C vaccination changes

From June this year the second dose of the vaccine, usually administered to babies at 16 weeks old, will be replaced with the introduction of an adolescent booster between the ages of 13 and 15.

From mid-August 2014 there will also be a catch-up programme to offer the vaccine to first year University students under the age of 25.

Read letters outlining the changes and all the resources regarding the changes to the meningitis C schedule.

Information on continuation of pertussis vaccination of pregnant women

It has been announced that the temporary programme of pertussis (whooping cough) vaccination for pregnant women, which has been in place since October 2012, will continue into 2013/14.

This is following advice from the JCVI, which has reviewed the available evidence and concluded that this programme should continue but remain under review.

Read a letter announcing the continuation.

Part 1 of information about 2013/14 flu immunisation programme is announced

The flu immunisation programme for winter 2013/14 outlines the second phase of target increases for take up of the flu jab.

Last year the NHS was asked to plan a three year trajectory to increase take up and this winter health professionals will be asked to reach or exceed a 75% take up in over 65s and at risk groups.

While last winter we enjoyed another quiet flu season in England, some other countries experienced more severe flu outbreaks.  This is a reminder flu is dangerous and unpredictable and we must not get complacent in our attempts to improve vaccine take up nationally.

Two letters will be sent to key health leads for this season.  Part 1 is available by following the link below and offers more detail about the required targets.