Children in England who become unwell after receiving a vaccine administered as part of their routine immunisation programme will have to wait longer to be re-vaccinated, following changes to routine immunisation guidelines, the Department of Health has announced.
The changes to vaccination recommendations will mean that one-year-olds will not be vaccinated for three days after receiving the CVID-19 vaccine against strains of monkeypox. This compares with the one-day wait that a child had to wait under the previous guidance. Other changes include changing the age at which one-year-olds are also given a pneumococcal vaccine against pneumococcal disease.
Parents were initially advised that one-year-olds should also receive the pneumococcal jab at six and then once every three years. This has now been changed to one jab every two years.
Worrying rise in new swine flu cases, says Dr Sally Gibbs, head of vigilance and immunisation for Public Health England (PHE). Photograph: Dr Paul Workman/Getty Images
The three-day delay had already been brought in for children with a raised risk of catching flu because of their age, but the change is the result of a review of immunisation guidelines. PHE said the review had been prompted by a recent rise in cases of the new swine flu strain H7N9.
These cases are harder to detect with current techniques, so giving young children the jab is more difficult, according to recent research. The change means that children may have to wait two weeks between becoming unwell and getting the shot.
Dr Sally Gibbs, head of vigilance and immunisation at PHE, said: “In recent years, more than 100,000 British children have been struck down with infections from the H7N9 virus. Vaccinating children at younger ages against these diseases would enable us to better protect them and prevent them becoming more seriously ill.”
Symptoms of this H7N9 swine flu virus have proven difficult to diagnose, and children are believed to be at greater risk of becoming infected, because they are more likely to be given the vaccination when they are younger.
Nurses will still be able to administer the vaccine, though on a more restricted basis.