A new vaccination programme that will guard babies against a highly infectious bug is under way.
The rotavirus vaccination programme began on Monday and will help over 675,000 babies repel the infection, the symptoms of which are diarrhoea, vomiting, abdominal pain, fever and dehydration. It will cover all babies aged between two and three months.
Almost all children suffer from the viral infection before their fifth birthday. It is the leading cause of gastroenteritis in infants and children just a little bit older.
While the majority of children are nursed back to health at home, almost a fifth are forced to see a doctor and one in 10, approximately 13,000 kids a year, are hospitalised.
Experts are confident the new immunisation programme will improve the situation dramatically. There will be significantly fewer GP visits and hospital stays, while the number of vomiting and diarrhoea cases will be halved, they predict.
Children will be given the vaccine orally as part of their routine vaccination programme.
Public Health England medical director Dr Paul Cosford said: "Although good hygiene measures can help prevent spread of the disease, the best way to protect your baby from catching rotavirus is to get them vaccinated.
"The new vaccine will provide protection to those young babies who are most vulnerable to complications arising from rotavirus. From now on parents will be offered this protection alongside their baby's other childhood vaccinations."
Copyright Press Association 2013