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Hib efforts restore herd immunity

GPs' efforts during the 2003 Hib vaccination catch-up campaign have paid off with the re-establishment of herd immunity in the UK, Health Protection Agency researchers say.

Research from the HPA's centre for infections shows the 2003 campaign has halted the increase in the number of cases of an invasive strain of Hib seen in the population in 1999.

The HPA made a one-off collection of uptake data for all PCTs in 2004, to assess the success of the 2003 catch-up campaign and its impact on the Hib serotype B strain in children and adults.

Data from 288 of the 303 old PCTs revealed an uptake of 71.8% for children aged six to 12 months, and 63.2% for children aged one to four years.

Study leader Dr Shamez Ladhani, an epidemiologist at the HPA, said: ‘The Hib booster campaign resulted in a dramatic reduction in cases within 12 months in the age groups targeted for the booster. This decline was followed by a reduction in the number of cases reported among older children and adults.'

But the researchers warned the number of cases reported in children too young to have been vaccinated in 2003 had crept up since the campaign – backing the Government's recent decision to target this cohort in the pre-school catch-up campaign that started in September.

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