More than 675,000 babies per year in England will now be offered a new vaccination to protect them against rotavirus.
The infection is the most common cause of gastroenteritis (vomiting and diarrhoea) in children under five.
Rotavirus is responsible for 130,000 visits to the GP and 13,000 hospitalisations for dehydration every year.
The vaccine, Rotarix, will be given orally to babies aged two or three months. Public Health England (PHE) hopes this will halve the number of cases each year, leading to 70% fewer hospital stays.
“Rotavirus is a highly infectious and unpleasant illness that affects thousands of young children each year,” said Dr Paul Cosford, director for health protection and PHE medical director.
“The new vaccine will provide protection to those young babies who are most vulnerable to complications arising from rotavirus.”
Rotarix will be offered the vaccine alongside other childhood vaccinations.
The vaccine’s introduction if one of a number of new or amended vaccination programmes introduced by PHE this year.
Additional protection against shingles, meningococcal group C and flu will be introduced later this year.
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