Changes to the Irish childhood immunisation programme later this year
The National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) and the Department of Health and Children are recommending significant changes to the national childhood immunisation programme in 2008. These changes, to be published in the revised Immunisation Guidelines for Ireland in the next few months, include the addition of two new vaccines, the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV) and hepatitis B vaccine to the routine childhood programme.
The changes to the childhood immunisation programme include:
- Replacing the 5-in-1 vaccine with a 6-in-1 vaccine, which includes hepatitis B vaccine (See Table 1)
- Addition of pneumococcal conjugate vaccine, covering 7 serotypes (PCV7). Two doses will be given in the first year of life and a booster at 12 months of age.
- A decrease in the number of doses of Meningococcal C vaccine (MenC) given in the first year of life (two will be given rather than three)
- The addition of booster doses of PCV7 and MenC vaccine at 12 and 13 months respectively
- A booster of low dose acellular pertussis for all children at 11-14 years (included in the Tdap vaccine)
Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine catch-up campaign
A pneumococcal conjugate vaccine catch-up programme is also planned to provide protection to young children (< 2 years of age) who are most at risk from invasive pneumococcal disease.
The proposed changes to the immunisation programme in 2008 will prevent unnecessary illness, hospitalisation, disability and deaths related to common vaccine preventable diseases. The introduction of routine vaccination against pneumococcal and hepatitis B infections is particularly welcome and will benefit the whole community.
The planning and implementation of these changes is being coordinated by the Health Services Executive (HSE). The HSE will inform all health professionals and the general public of specific details in the next few months.