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The planned introduction of pneumococcal vaccination in children is likely to cut cases in older adults dramatically, new research suggests.

An evaluation of the US childhood vaccination programme, introduced in 2000, found it reduced cases in adults over 50 by 28 per cent between 1998 and 2003.

Incidence of disease caused by the seven conjugate vaccine serotypes fell 55 per cent in the over-50s, from 22.4 to 10.2 cases per 100,000.

Dr Catherine Lexau, epide-miologist in the Minnesota Department of Health in the US, said: 'In just two years we estimate 12,500 fewer cases and 1,100 fewer deaths occurred among older Americans.

'The dramatic changes we report were seen during a period when vaccine coverage among young children was still incomplete.'

The Department of Health announced in January that pneumococcal vaccine would be introduced in children but it is still considering the details of the schedule and has not yet set a timetable.

·Latest figures from the Department of Health show 82 per cent of people over the age of 80 have now received the pneumococcal vaccine.

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