Babies to be vaccinated against rotavirus bug

Babies under four months will be vaccinated against rotavirus, a vomiting and diarrhoea bug, it was announced on Friday.

The confirmation of the new vaccination programme, which follows the recommendation of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, will see infants vaccinated against rotavirus from September 2013.

The vaccine will be given to infants as part of the existing Childhood Immunisation Programme.

The vaccine, Rotarix, is already used in several other countries including the US, where rotavirus-related hospital admissions have fallen by as much as 86 per cent.

Minister for Public Health Michael Matheson said: “Rotavirus is the most common cause of diarrhoea in young children and I welcome the use of any vaccine that can protect them.

“In some of the most serious cases, the infection can result in a hospital stay, which can be distressing for the children and their families.

“Rotavirus is highly contagious and can affect around 140,000 infants in the UK every year. I would encourage parents of young children to take up this vaccine.”

Around 58,500 infants in Scotland will be offered the vaccine.

It is given in two separate doses as mouth drops, the first when the child is two months old and the second when the child is three months old.