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Children to get new jab against killer bug

A vaccine to fight six more strains of a bacteria linked with meningitis will be rolled out in the autumn, it emerged today.

Campaigners said lives will be saved by Government plans to immunise children against 13 types of the most common strains of pneumococcal bacteria.

The bacteria causes potentially fatal pneumococcal meningitis and septicaemia, as well as conditions such as pneumonia and severe ear infections.

The Meningitis Research Foundation (MRF) said between 200 and 300 people contract the life-threatening conditions each year -- with 10pc of cases ending in death and 20pc of survivors left disabled.

Diane McConnell, the charity's Ireland manager, said pneumococcal disease causes untold damage in Ireland and around the world.

"Pneumococcal meningitis is one of the most deadly forms of the disease," she said.

"It has a higher mortality rate than other forms and survivors are more likely to have after effects, including deafness, seizures and long-term brain damage.

"We are delighted this vaccine is being introduced to further protect children against pneumococcal meningitis."

The PCV13 vaccine will protect against severe infection caused by the most common 13 of the 90 strains of pneumococcal bacteria. It is expected to be introduced on October 1.



poisoning

Both meningitis and septicaemia can kill in hours. Meningitis is the inflammation of the lining around the brain and spinal cord, while septicaemia is the blood poisoning form of the disease.

Babies, toddlers and young adults are most at risk, with symptoms including fever, vomiting, headache and feeling unwell.

Anyone with concerns on meningitis and septicaemia should contact the foundation's 24-hour helpline, 1800 413344.

hnews@herald.ie


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