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Scottish health minister welcomes rotavirus vaccine

Rotavirus is the most common cause of diarrhoea in young children and I welcome the use of any vaccine that can protect them.

In some of the most serious cases, the infection can result in a hospital stay, which can be distressing for the children and their families. It is thought that with the vaccine, there could be 70% fewer hospital stays as a result.

Rotavirus is highly contagious and can affect around 140,000 infants in the UK every year. I would encourage parents of young children to take up this vaccine when the programme begins.

– Scotland's Public Health Minister Michael Matheson

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Young children to get rotavirus vaccine

Dr David Elliman, immunisation specialist of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said:

This is an important advance as whilst rotavirus does not cause many deaths in the UK, it does cause a huge amount of suffering.

Rotavirus affects large numbers of under-fives causing them diarrhoea for a few days. This vaccine will mean less pressure both on distressed parents who have to care for their children and of course the GPs and hospital services who are treating them.

This is a vaccine that has been used for some years in the US, so though new to us there is a large body of experience showing that it is safe and effective.

Professor urges parents to 'accept' rotavirus vaccine

Professor David Salisbury, director of immunisation at the Department of Health, has said he would encourage all parents of young children to "accept" the rotavirus vaccine.

From September next year, infants aged between two and four months will be immunised against rotavirus.
From September next year, infants aged between two and four months will be immunised against rotavirus. Credit: Lewis Whyld/PA Wire/Press Association Images

In a statement, he said: "Rotavirus spreads very easily and affects around 140,000 children every year, causing distress for them and their families.

"Many people think of diarrhoea as something that all children get and that you have to put up with. But there is a way to protect children from this. I'd encourage all parents of young children to accept this vaccine when the programme begins next year."

Vaccinations could 'spare' young children hospital stays

The Department of Health said the move to vaccinate all babies against the highly infectious bug will mean that thousands of young children will be spared hospital stays and hundreds of thousands of GP visits.

At present, the virus causes 140,000 diarrhoea cases a year in under fives across the UK, and lead to around 14,000 hospital stays.

Vaccination experts believe the immunisation programme will halve the number of vomiting and diarrhoea cases caused by rotavirus and there could be 70% fewer hospital stays as a result.

Children will receive the vaccine, to be given orally as two separate doses of liquid drops, as part of their routine vaccination programme.

Babies to get rotavirus vaccine

All babies are to be vaccinated against a highly infectious bug that is one of the most common causes of diarrhoea in children.

From September next year, infants aged between two and four months will be immunised against rotavirus - which causes diarrhoea, vomiting, abdominal pain, fever and dehydration.

From September next year, infants aged between two and four months will be immunised against rotavirus.
From September next year, infants aged between two and four months will be immunised against rotavirus. Credit: David Cheskin/PA Wire/Press Association Images

At present, almost every child will have had the viral infection by the age of five. It is the most common cause of gastroenteritis in infants and very young children.

In order to stem the large number of children who become infected, health experts have decided to immunise children against the virus.

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