New whooping cough vaccine under threat

Image copyright REX/Shutterstock Image caption The new vaccine is far less expensive than traditional vaccines Doctors have changed plans for vaccinations for young children, after early tests showed they are not as effective as…

New whooping cough vaccine under threat

Image copyright REX/Shutterstock Image caption The new vaccine is far less expensive than traditional vaccines

Doctors have changed plans for vaccinations for young children, after early tests showed they are not as effective as the previously-planned jab.

A new vaccination for young children, still in the planning stage, will be given later on.

An analysis showed the new vaccination, known as the CVID vaccine, did not protect against whooping cough, nor against viral meningitis.

The Department of Health (DoH) said it was still too early to say if parents would get the vaccine at 18 months or one year.

The current plan was to vaccinate babies against tetanus, diphtheria and whooping cough (Tdap) at two months, and viral meningitis and measles between four and 18 months.

These are older children’s and young adults’ vaccines.

But a DoH review has concluded that the new vaccine, which still in the planning stage, was not as effective as expected.

Testing on late babies

Any healthy baby younger than six months should be vaccinated for tetanus.

For measles, a vaccine must be given at 18 months, or before entry to nursery or school.

Last year, almost 1,000 newborn babies were infected with whooping cough in the UK, about 120 a week.

Many had not received the Tdap vaccine.

At least 400 UK babies died of whooping cough in 2016.

Young children are believed to receive up to 12 injections of the Tdap vaccine over the first three years of their lives.

The authors of the review said it was possible the new vaccine had been developed too early, given that the current clinical trials took place in late babies.

Image copyright BBC Image caption Pregnant women have to get this vaccine before they can have children

The review is being published in the journal BMJ Immunology.

The review authors said they would ask the Department of Health and the European Medicines Agency (EMA) for further data to assess its effectiveness.

But it is expected that the new vaccine will still be introduced.

The National Health Service should continue to make routine vaccination available as it was for children who are due to arrive at three months.

A Department of Health spokeswoman said: “What’s important is that we ensure there is enough time between the contract signing and the rollout of vaccination.

“This is particularly important in the event that there is to be any change to a vaccine’s efficacy.”

The new CVID vaccine would not be compulsory – it would be up to parents to decide whether or not to immunise their baby.

The Department of Health said it expected one of the key issues would be how to make sure those immunised against pertussis (whooping cough) got their immunisation at a later date – especially when there are strains of that disease circulating in people whose immunity is declining.

The Health Protection Agency (HPA) said it had had “no concerns or comments” on the review.

HPA chief executive Jo Robinson said: “Scientists and vaccine developers are always on the lookout for new ways to protect people from diseases, which are difficult to kill.

“We are always asking if existing vaccines can be delivered safely or if there are ways to deliver new vaccines more efficiently.”

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