1. ITV Report

Babies to get new diarrhoea vaccine

The new vaccination programme will begin in September 2013 Photo: David Cheskin/PA Wire

The number of cases of a highly infectious vomiting bug which affects children under five are up by a third on last year. The rise in cases of rotavirus is believed to be related to the early cold snap. But children in the West Country will soon benefit from a new vaccination programme that's been announced by the Department of Health.

Rio Poole from Bristol was admitted to hospital with the virus in April Credit: ITV West

Three year old Rio Poole from Bristol has been struck down with rotavirus not once but twice. He's not alone. Almost every child in Britain will have had the viral infection by the age of five. It's the most common cause of gastroenteritis in infants and very young children.

For Rio though, it was much worse than just a bout of vomiting and diarrhoea. He ended up in hospital and became seriously ill.

Rio's mum, Katrina Poole, says: "Rio couldn't keep anything down. There was nothing staying down, there was nothing staying in. That's obviously why he became so poorly - it was the dehydration that set in and it didn't wee for 24 hours so he was in quite a state by the time he actually got admitted to hospital."

In order to reduce the large numbers who become infected, the NHS has decided to immunise children against the virus.

Professor David Salisbury is the Director of Immunisation at the Department of Health. He says: "Very few children die from Rotavirus which of course is good, but we've got around 14 thousand hospital admissions so this causes a considerable impact on families. In other countries this is a killer of young children."

The virus currently causes 140,000 cases of diarrhoea in under fives in the UK, of which one in ten will end up in hospital like Rio. Experts believe the vaccination programme will lead to half the number of cases and 70 per cent fewer hospital stays.

The rotavirus immunisation scheme will start in September next year. Children will be given two doses of liquid drops as part of their routine vaccination programme.