Rotavirus vaccine to protect young babies

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The Public Health Agency (PHA) is launching a new childhood vaccination programme to protect babies against the diarrhoea and vomiting bug rotavirus, a very common and potentially serious infection of the lower gut.

From this month, the routine childhood immunisation schedule will include the rotavirus vaccine to protect babies against rotavirus. In Northern Ireland this infection is responsible for around 4,000 GP visits and 400 hospitalisations every year in children under five years.

Dr Richard Smithson, consultant in health protection, PHA said: “The vaccine will be given to babies at their two and three month appointments. The first dose cannot be given to babies 15 weeks or over. The second dose should be given four weeks after the first dosage and must be before 24 weeks of age. It is therefore important that babies attend their appointments at the correct time.

“Northern Ireland has an excellent record on childhood immunisations, with uptake levels well above the UK average. This has ensured that our children are well protected against serious and potentially fatal diseases. It is great news to see another safe and effective vaccine being introduced,” she added