Thursday June 25, 2015
Health Minister Jonathan Coleman says since the pneumococcal vaccine was introduced in 2008 there have been approximately 600 fewer cases of invasive pneumococcal disease in children under five.
“Pneumococcal bacteria can cause severe ear infections, meningitis, pneumonia, and blood infection. Invasive pneumococcal disease can be fatal in around four per cent of cases,” says Dr Coleman.
“Pneumococcal vaccines have proven to be very effective. Most of the strains covered by the 2008 vaccine have now been almost completely eliminated in young children.
“In 2007 prior to the introduction of the vaccine, there were 156 cases of invasive pneumococcal disease among children under five. In the last five years, this has dropped to 40 to 65 cases a year thanks to the protection offered by the vaccine.”
Based on data from the Institute of Environmental Science and Research (ESR), the rate of pneumococcal disease in children under five decreased by 62 per cent between 2007 and 2014. The rate decreased by 66 per cent for children under two.
Young children and the elderly are most affected by pneumococcal disease.
The pneumococcal vaccine is free to babies and children at age six weeks, three months and five months, with a booster at 15 months of age. It is also funded for adults with certain high risk health conditions.
The Government has made immunisation a top priority, lifting the national target from 90 to 95 per cent of eight month olds immunised. More babies than ever before are being protected against whooping cough and other serious preventable diseases.
Media contact: Kirsty Taylor-Doig 021 838 372