Wed, Dec 18, 2013 - Page 3 News List

Free vaccines to be extended to babies

By Alison Hsiao  /  Staff reporter

The delivery of free pneumococcal conjugate vaccines (PCV13) will next year be extended to cover children aged one to two years old, to reduce the risk of pneumococcal infections that can lead to pneumonia, blood infections and meningitis, the Centers for Disease Control said yesterday.

According to the nation’s disease surveillance data, the incidence of invasive pneumococcal disease has been most common among senior citizens aged 65 and older, and young children under five years old. Among the younger group, those between two and five years old are the most susceptible, followed by one and two-year-olds.

The centers said that following the advice of the Ministry of Health and Welfare’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, it has started this year to provide a free PCV13 shot to those born between 2008 and 2011.

The agency urged parents of eligible young children to have them vaccinated before the end of the year to be guaranteed they will get the free shot, saying that the vaccination rate among the group as of the end of last month was 61 percent.

The free vaccine will continue to be available for children born between 2009 and 2011 and who come from from middle and low-income households, the centers said, adding that the program will next year be extended to cover those who were born last year and later.

It is estimated the policy can benefit more than 520,000 young children, the disease control authority said, and older people in the community can also be indirectly protected by the breaking of the transmission chain caused by reduced nasal and pharyngeal carrier rates of viruses among young children.

PVC13 can be administered at the same time as other vaccines in different parts of the body, the agency said, adding that some people may experience redness or tenderness in the site where the shot was given, but will recover within two days, while a few people may experience fever and drowsiness after receiving the vaccination.

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