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Call for boost to pneumococcal vaccine uptake

Government experts are calling for more children to receive the pneumococcal vaccine, as new figures show its introduction is already saving lives.

A year after the rollout of the pneumococcal vaccine programme, 300 immunised children have avoided serious illnesses such as meningitis, septicaemia and severe pneumonia, a Department of Health analysis shows.

The department estimates that out of these 300 children, 17 would have died, and around 30 would have been left with permanent disabilities.

But experts are urging par-ents and GPs to make sure their children are vaccinated, as Health Protection Agency figures also published today show that uptake – at 86% - is still much lower than the Government's target of 95%.

Dr David Salisbury, DH di-rector of immunisation, said the data showed the importance of vaccinating children against serious illness.

He said: ‘It is so important for a child to get all their vaccinations and this success story should serve as a reminder to check that your child's vaccines are up to date.'

Health minister Ben Brad-shaw added: ‘Vaccinating children against harmful diseases is one of the easiest and most important health measures we can take.

‘These figures are a stark reminder of the importance and benefits of immunisation as we shift the focus of the NHS from a sickness service to a wellbeing service.'

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