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Vaccine "cut child pneumonia cases"

Bacterial pneumonia, which accounts for 10% of deaths in under-fives across Europe, has fallen by a fifth among children in England following the introduction of a vaccine, research has shown.

The PCV7 vaccine, which combats seven strains of Streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria, was brought into the UK's childhood primary immunisation programme in September 2006 and was used by an average of 84% of eligible English children in its first year and 91% the year after.

There was a 19% fall in hospital admissions for bacterial pneumonia among under-15s in the first two years, and a 22% drop in admissions for empyema, a rare and serious complication of the disease, the Imperial College London study found.

Children aged up to two years old are given the vaccine in three stages - at two months, three months and 13 months - and there was a catch-up campaign for those who had missed out on the pneumococcal vaccine, the study in the journal Thorax said.

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