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Last Updated: Monday, 27 September, 2004, 10:41 GMT 11:41 UK
Five-in-one jab 'in GP surgeries'
Syringe
The vaccine will be administered to babies over two months old.
Doctors' surgeries are to begin receiving the combined five-in-one childhood vaccine from Monday.

It was announced last month that the diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, Hib jab, plus oral polio vaccine, would be replaced by the combination jab.

Health experts said the five-in-one immunisation, which contains new polio and whooping cough vaccines, would not overload a baby's immune system.

The combined jab will be rolled out across the UK in the coming weeks.

Immunisation is the best way to protect children from serious disease
Department of Health spokeswoman
Dr David Salisbury, head of immunisations at the Department of Health, dismissed concerns over the five-in-one jab, saying: "We will actually be giving children far fewer ingredients, not more, so all the mumblings that have been going on about overloading the immune system are the wrong way round.

"That is even if you believe the immune system can be overloaded. This isn't a real risk anyway."

Protection

The vaccine, made by Aventis Pasteur under the brand name Pediacel, will be administered to babies over two months old.

Unlike the existing vaccine, it will not contain the mercury-based preservative thiomersal.

There had been concerns the preservative was linked to autism.

But health experts have said there was no evidence it was linked to a risk of severe neurological damage, and that it only being removed as a precaution - and because the inactivated polio vaccine is not effective if mixed with mercury.

In addition, the existing vaccine itself carried a very tiny risk it could cause paralytic polio. The new version, because it is an inactivated vaccine, does not.

A Department of Health spokeswoman said: "Immunisation is the best way to protect children from serious disease and the routine childhood programme has been extremely effective in achieving this.

"The changes set out today will further improve the programme and benefit children."

The five-in-one jab will be rolled out across the country over the next few weeks.

There will also be new vaccines for pre-school and teenage immunisation boosters.

Last week immunisation statistics for 2003 to 2004 showed that 80% of children in England reaching the age of two had received the combined measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) jab, compared with 82% in 2002 to 2003.


SEE ALSO:
Q&A: The five-in-one vaccine
09 Aug 04  |  Health


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