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Promotion of Pneumococcal Vaccine Slow in Europe

ational childhood immunisation programme from April 2006. .

"Restricting pneumococcal immunisation to children who have a serious health problem that could make them more susceptible means that only a small percentage of the overall cases of childhood IPD may be prevented. Herd protection cannot be achieved without broad vaccine coverage" says lead author Dr Mark Fletcher, Director of International Scientific and Clinical Affairs at Wyeth Vaccine Research, Paris. Most children hospitalised for IPD do not belong to a recognised at-risk group, he adds. Surveys in the US and Europe have shown that only ten to 27 per cent of children developing IPD have an underlying health problem. .

Certain factors increase the risk for IPD. For example: Children who attend group day care face a two to three times greater risk than children who stay at home. .

Low birth-weight babies face a 2.6 greater risk than normal birth-weight babies and premature babies face a 1.6 greater risk than full-term babies. .

Rates increase dramatically if children have conditions such as HIV and AIDS (11,300 cases a year per 100,000 children under three) or sickle cell disease (5,500 to 6,500 cases a year per 100,000 children under five). .

Surveys carried out in the US before the 7-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine was universally introduced there showed that African American children under the age of two had a 1.6 greater risk than white children of the same age. .

The IJCP paper also carries a detailed analysis of vaccine prescriptions in the UK, which shows that at least 4,080 children received the pneumococcal vaccine between January 2002 and August 2004. .

Research carried out with child experts in various medical specialties identified that UK children with nine key illnesses received the vaccine. Children suffering from coeliac disease were the largest group (34 per cent), followed by sickle cell disease (15 p
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