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New vaccine call

The Government's Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation is to consider introducing a rotavirus vaccine into the childhood schedule.

The committee decided to add rotavirus vaccination to its work schedule as RotaTeq last week joined Rotarix in gaining a European Medicines Agency licence against the disease.

The RCGP has responded to the committee's move by calling for a universal immunisation programme to be introduced.

Dr George Kassianos, the

college's immunisation spokes-man and a GP in Bracknell, Berkshire, said: 'We would support introduction of rotavirus immunisations in the schedule for our infants in the UK. Being an oral vaccine, it can easily be added to the first and second visit for immunisation at two and three months.'

He added that in the long run vaccination would decrease GP workload. 'Rotavirus gastroenteritis accounts for more than 150,000 GP consultations each year in England and Wales – one in four children under the age of five years will visit us because of this condition.'

Health Protection Agency figures show there have been 11,112 laboratory reports of rotavirus infection so far this year – the second most common cause of gastrointestinal infections after campylobacter, with 11,863.

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