Take advantage of new improved pneumococcal vaccine
The Department of Health is urging parents of young children aged between13–35 months to have them vaccinated with a catch-up dose of a new, improved pneumococcal vaccine before the end of next month.
The Prevenar 13® vaccine which is free under the National Immunisation Program until September 30 protects against 13 pneumococcal strains – six more than its predecessor, Prevenar®.
Department of Health Communicable Disease Control Director Dr Paul Armstrong said children were currently vaccinated against pneumococcal disease at two, four and six months of age but that some older children would not have received the new vaccine.
"A single dose of Prevenar 13® is all that is required to boost the immunity of children who previously received the 7-strain version of Prevenar," he said.
"Children who have not yet completed their three-dose pneumococcal vaccination will receive the new vaccine as part of their routine immunisations and do not need the 'catch-up' dose. "
Dr Armstrong said pneumococcal disease was a potentially very serious illness which impacted on many young children across the State each year.
The disease could cause meningitis, pneumonia and septicemia, as well as middle ear and sinus infections, he said.
He encouraged all parents of eligible children to take advantage of the 'catch-up' vaccine to boost their children's level of protection.
"The new vaccine provides protection against one particular strain of pneumococcal bacteria that is responsible for the majority of invasive pneumococcal disease in children under three," Dr Armstrong said.
The free vaccine is available from General Practitioners and community immunisation providers. Some appointments may incur a consultation fee.
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