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Hib vaccine recommended for children up to age of 10

Children up to the age of 10 who haven't been immunised against Hib disease should now receive the vaccine, say Government advisers.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation made the decision after looking at evidence that children aged five to nine who had not been vaccinated against Hib were three times more likely to contract the disease.

Under previous guidance GPs only needed to vaccinate children up to the age of four, since the incidence of Hib drops dramatically once children reach school age.

The change in policy will mostly affect children moving to the UK from countries without a childhood Hib vaccination programme, because more than 90 per cent of children in the UK are fully vaccinated by the age of 12 months.

Dr Mary Ramsay, consultant epidemiologist at the Health Protection Agency, said quite a few cases of Hib in children aged four to 15 occurred in children who had not been vaccinated.

The Department of Health's lead official on immunisation, Dr David Salisbury, backed the decision, saying that if a nine-year-old hadn't been immunised they would be 'better off having a dose of Hib'.

He added that although the advice has yet to be officially announced, health professionals could 'follow it as of now'.

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