Infants between 12 and 35 months need to come to the doctor for an additional free# dose of the new pneumococcal vaccine. The government-funded vaccine is available from 1 October 2011 for 12 months only*.
The previous pneumococcal vaccine gave protection against only 7 strains of the pneumococcal bacterium. The new vaccine covers an additional 6 strains, including 19A which is now the most common type.
Pneumococcal disease is caused by a bacterium called Streptococcus pneumoniae, which commonly lives in the nose and throat and is spread through infected droplets in the air and by touching an infected person.
It can cause middle ear and sinus infections as well as serious diseases e.g. meningitis (infection of the brain lining), pneumonia (lung infection) and septicaemia (blood infection). Most cases can be prevented by vaccination.
Catch-up program for infants 12-35 months
Infants between 1-3 years will have received a course of 3 pneumococcal shots at 2, 4 and 6 months of age. A further dose of the new vaccine is now advised to boost protection.
Babies up to 6 months
From 1st of July, all babies are now being routinely vaccinated at 2, 4 and 6 months with the new pneumococcal vaccine. Babies who have had 1 or 2 doses of the older vaccine can safely complete their course with the new one. No further routine boosters will then be required.
# The vaccination is free but there may be a charge for the consultation. Ask your doctor.
* In all states and territories except NT.
Immunise Australia Hotline: 1800 671 811
Please note this information was correct at time of printing.
For up to date information, speak to your doctor.Source: Spring 2011 Edition | Page 4
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