MRF wants to see protection maintained following changes to the pneumococcal vaccine schedule

12 Apr 2019
MRF wants to see protection maintained following changes to the pneumococcal vaccine schedule

One dose of the pneumococcal vaccine is due to be removed from the UK’s routine childhood immunisation schedule within the next year, following recommendations from the government’s vaccine advisors - the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).

Meningitis Research Foundation (MRF) has been reassured that protection against pneumococcal meningitis will be maintained with the new schedule and that public health experts will be continuing to monitor the number of cases closely.

MRF would like to see confirmation that mechanisms are in place to quickly respond to any resurgence in disease following the change to the schedule.

The pneumococcal vaccine protects against 13 strains of pneumococcal bacteria - a leading cause of bacterial meningitis.

UK babies are currently given three separate doses of pneumococcal vaccine, two in infancy at two and four months of age with a booster dose at one year of age (known as a 2 + 1 schedule). The schedule will be amended to one dose in infancy at three months of age with a booster at one year (known as a 1 + 1 schedule).

The JCVI base their recommendations on the latest evidence and research. A recent study found that, for 9 of the 13 strains of pneumococcal bacteria that the vaccine prevents, infants receiving two doses get an ‘equivalent or superior’ protective response compared to infants who received all three doses.

The JCVI report that the pneumococcal vaccine has not only successfully reduced cases of disease due to the 13 strains covered by the vaccine, but that it has also dramatically reduced the circulation of these bacteria amongst the wider population. They believe this means the risk of exposure to the 13 strains of disease has reduced so much that removing one vaccine dose in infancy would not result in a significant increase in cases. 

"We would like clarity on when and how the dose of vaccine would be re-introduced if cases of this deadly disease increased." Vinny Smith, MRF

Vinny Smith, Chief Executive of Meningitis Research Foundation, said, “We appreciate that the evidence suggests removing one dose of the vaccine will not significantly increase cases of illness, and while any move to simplify vaccine schedules for families is welcomed, protection must be maintained.

“If we do see more children contracting pneumococcal meningitis after the vaccine schedule changes, this would be unacceptable.

“We are pleased that the number of cases are to be kept under regular review, but we would like clarity on when and how the dose of vaccine would be re-introduced if cases of this deadly disease increased.

“A reduced schedule will make it more important than ever that people take up vaccines available to them. It is vital that children are immunised with the booster dose at one year of age to stop wider transmission of the disease causing bacteria.

“There are a number of strains of pneumococcal infection that are not yet vaccine preventable. Vaccines that protect against more strains of pneumococcal infection are currently in development and we need these to be made available as soon as possible.”

Pneumococcal bacteria
Pneumococcal bacteria
A major cause of meningitis
Media contact
Sophie Beyer - Media Relations Manager
Tel: 07875 498047
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