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DH consults on scrapping 'ineffective' pneumococcal vaccination programme

By Lilian Anekwe

Older patients should no longer receive the pneumococcal vaccination, according to a new recommendation by Department of Health advisors.

A review by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation has concluded the pneumococcal vaccination programme in the over 65s has had ‘no discernable impact' on rates of pneumococcal disease.

In response, the DH has launched a consultation on whether to scrap the programme.

In a letter to immunisation co-ordinators, Professor David Salisbury, the DH director of immunisation said the JCVI had questioned the need for a programme for some time but had recently taken a much firmer view on its effectiveness – prompting the DH to seek views on whether to formally scrap the programme.

‘Following a detailed review of the evidence on the impact of the programme and on the clinical effectiveness of PPV, JCVI has concluded that the protection the vaccine provides is poor and is not long-lasting in older people.

‘In addition, the programme has had no discernable impact on the incidence of invasive pneumococcal disease in older people. The committee has advised, therefore, that there is little benefit to continuing the programme and that it should be stopped.'

The letter stresses that GPs need not take any action ‘at this time' and that GPs should continue to offer the pneumococcal jab to patients in clinical risk groups, ‘as the evidence on efficacy in younger people is more robust'.

‘Clinical judgements should be made on whether to vaccinate older patients taking into account patient age and severity of underlying health conditions.'

DH consults on scrapping 'ineffective' pneumococcal vaccination programme

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