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Last Updated: Wednesday, 12 July 2006, 10:21 GMT 11:21 UK
Children to get pneumococcal jab
Doctors and the government are in talks over how to fund the jab
A vaccination programme to protect children against pneumococcal disease is to be launched in the UK in September.

As part of a nationwide catch-up campaign, every child up to the age of two will also be offered the vaccine.

Pneumococcal infection can cause very serious illnesses such as meningitis and pneumonia and is a common bacterial cause of ear infections.

It affects 400 children each year, killing 50 and leaving many disabled.

Two months: DTaP/IPV/Hib + pneumococcal vaccine
Three months: DTaP/IPV/Hib + MenC vaccine
Four months: DTaP/IPV/Hib + MenC + pneumococcal vaccine
12 months: Hib/Men C
13 months: MMR + pneumococcal vaccine
DTaP/IPV/Hib is a single injection that protects against diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio and Hib
MenC protects against meningitis C
Hib/ MenC is a combined vaccine protecting against Hib and Meningitis C

The vaccine was introduced in the US five years ago, but has been delayed in the UK because of concerns over its cost.

The jab costs 34.50 a shot, more than all the other childhood vaccines put together.

Announcing the new programme, Sir Liam Donaldson, the Chief Medical Officer for England, said: "The new vaccine will save lives and prevent hundreds more cases of serious illness and disability in both the young and old as well as reducing the need for medical care.

"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."

From September every child starting their routine immunisations at two months of age will be offered the vaccine.

The catch-up campaign will mean that every child aged up to two years old will also be offered the vaccination from September until early next year.

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