Editorials

Rotavirus vaccine: a welcome addition to the immunisation schedule in the UK

BMJ 2013; 346 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.f2347 (Published 15 April 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;346:f2347
  1. Miren Iturriza-Gómara, Wellcome Trust tenure track fellow1,
  2. Nigel Cunliffe, professor of medical microbiology1
  1. 1Institute of Infection and Global Health, University of Liverpool, Liverpool L69 7BE, UK
  1. n.a.cunliffe{at}liv.ac.uk

Change in policy promises substantial benefits

In November 2012, the Department of Health announced that rotavirus vaccine will be introduced into the United Kingdom’s childhood immunisation programme (www.dh.gov.uk/health/2012/11/rotavirus). The live, attenuated, two dose, oral monovalent vaccine (Rotarix, GlaxoSmithKline Biologicals) will be given with other routine vaccines to children by the age of 4 months. Clinical trials in Europe and the Americas with both currently licensed rotavirus vaccines (Rotarix and a pentavalent vaccine Rotateq developed by Merck) led to a recommendation by the World Health Organization in 2006 to vaccinate children in these regions. Subsequent trials in Africa and Asia led to an extension of the recommendation to include all children worldwide.1 The Department of Health’s joint committee on vaccination and immunisation recognised as early as 2008 that rotavirus vaccination would reduce the burden of rotavirus disease in the UK population. However, at that time, the cost effectiveness analysis indicated that at market prices universal vaccination of UK infants significantly exceeded the accepted threshold for intervention,2 and that universal rotavirus vaccination would become cost effective only if vaccine prices were reduced. Economic aspects remain a barrier to vaccine introduction in western Europe, with only Austria, Belgium, Finland, and Luxemburg having rolled out universal programmes. Currently, more …

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