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Home News Centre National Press Releases 2010 Press Releases ›  Health Protection Agency welcomes addition of new pneumococcal vaccine to childhood immunisation programme
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Health Protection Agency welcomes addition of new pneumococcal vaccine to childhood immunisation programme

19 January 2010

Children to receive protection against 13 strains of pneumococcal bacteria

The Health Protection Agency (HPA) welcomes the Department of Health's replacement of the current pneumococcal vaccine (PCV) with a vaccine that protects against further strains of the disease.

The current PCV vaccine in use successfully protects against the seven major strains which cause pneumococcal infection. The new vaccine will protect against the seven strains already contained in the current vaccine as well as six other common strains of the infection. Pneumococcal infection can cause diseases such as pneumonia, septicaemia and meningitis.

The new pneumococcal vaccine will follow the same three dose schedule at is currently used, with children immunised at two, four and thirteen months of age.

Dr Mary Ramsay, an immunisation expert at the Health Protection Agency, said:

"Pneumococcal infection is one of the most common causes of invasive bacterial infection with young children, older people and some other groups of people being at increased risk of developing a pneumococcal infection. The best way to protect against pneumococcal disease is through immunisation. The replacement pneumococcal vaccine will protect children from more strains of this infection, saving lives."


Notes to Editors:

  1.  According to the latest uptake figures compiled by the HPA (April - June 2009), the percentage of children who have received two doses of the PCV vaccine in the UK by 12 months of age is 92.4%. The number of children in the UK receiving their booster dose of PCV by 24 months is 86.6%
  2. Currently there are more than 90 known pneumococcal types and the current PCV vaccine protects against the seven most common types which circulate in the UK; the new PCV vaccine will protect against the 13 most common types. Approximately 5,000-6,000 cases of invasive pneumococcal disease (IPD) are reported annually to the Health Protection Agency, Centre for Infections (CfI). There is a marked seasonal pattern with the greatest number of reports occurring in December and January each year. In addition there are an estimated 40,000 hospitalisations due to pneumococcal pneumonia, 40,000 GP consultations for pneumococcal related community acquired pneumonia and over 63,000 for pneumococcal otitis media in England and Wales each year.
  3. The pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV) was first introduced into the routine childhood vaccination programme in September 2006 for children aged two, four and thirteen months, with a catch-up campaign targeting children up to two years of age to protect children from the infection. The adult pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPV) which protects those over 65 from pneumococcal disease will continue to be administered as usual.
  4. For Health Protection Agency media enquiries please contact the Agency's Centre for Infections Press Office on:
    Alexandra Baker  0208 327 7098
    David Daley  020 8327 6647
    Kate Swan  020 8327 7097
    Louise Brown  020 8327 7080
    George Fletcher 020 8327 6690
    Eleanor Bunch   020 8327 7751
  5. More information on the pneumococcal vaccine can be found here -


Last reviewed: 19 January 2010