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Vaccination uptake low in neediest

The uptake of the pneumococcal vaccine programme in England and Wales has been poor among the groups of patients most in need, a Health Protection Agency study reveals.

Between 1999 – seven years after the start of the vaccine programme – and 2005, 8.6 per cent of registered patients were vaccinated, although 29 per cent of the population fell into at least one at-risk group.The proportion of each risk group vaccinated between 1999 and 2005 was highest in patients with cochlea implants, at 69 per cent.Uptake was far lower in other target groups – at 53 per cent for splenic dysfunction, 29 per cent for chronic kidney disease and 23 per cent in the immunosuppressed.Uptake figures were lowest in those with sickle cell anaemia, at 16 per cent, and, worryingly, in those with chronic respiratory diseases, at 13 per cent.Writing online in Epidemiology and Infection, lead researcher Dr Richard Peabody, head of the Health Protection Agency's centre for infections in London, urged GPs and the Department of Health to work to improve the uptake of pneumococcal vaccination in at-risk patients.

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