Minister announces changes to vaccination programmes in Wales
Eluned Morgan, Minister for Health and Social Services, has announced changes to two vaccination programme in Wales following new guidance issued by the UK’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).
Following JCVI guidelines, the minister has confirmed babies and infants in Wales will not be offered the Meningitis C vaccine from 2025, when existing stocks of the vaccine are expected to run out.
Ms Morgan also confirmed the government would follow recommendations to move to one dose of the HPV vaccination for certain groups.
The Hib/Men C vaccine is currently offered to all infants in Wales at the age of 12-13 months, alongside the first dose of the MMR jab.
The JCVI now advises that an additional dose of Hib vaccine should still be offered at 12 or 18 months of ages.
Hib infections used to be a serious health problem but routine immunisation, given to babies since 1992, means these infections are now rare and the vaccine containing MenC is no longer recommended.
The Committee also referred to “compelling evidence” that a single dose of HPV vaccine could be sufficient to provide good and long-lasting protection when offered in early adolescence in its recommendation to revise the programme.
The HPV vaccine helps protect against cancers caused by HPV, including cervical cancer, some mouth and throat cancers and some cancers of the anal and genital areas.
A recently published Cancer Research UK-funded study found that cervical cancer rates in women offered the vaccine between the ages of 12 and 13, and now in their 20s, were 87% lower than in an unvaccinated population.
“The move to one dose will minimise disruption for schools and create more capacity due to the vaccination session reduction, whilst still maintaining the incredible levels of success in combatting HPV and reducing cancers with a single dose,” Eluned Morgan wrote in a statement confirming the changes.
“Welsh Government will now work with NHS Wales on the arrangements needed to implement the changes to the infant and childhood vaccination programme.
“I would urge children, young people and their parents and carers to follow Public Health advice and ensure they are fully immunised to protect them from potentially serious diseases,” she added.
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