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Immunisation factfile launched to promote 5-in-1 jab

Published on 13/10/04 at 03:43pm

Aventis Pasteur MSD has collaborated with public health bodies in producing a Factfile in support of the company's new 5-in-1 vaccine for children.

The government is promoting Pediacel as a safer and more convenient vaccination, protecting children against diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough and polio, as well as providing the Hib jab but are wary of a similar controversy to the one that surrounded the MMR jab.

The latest MMR immunisation statistics show the number of children receiving the jab has still not recovered following the 1998 scare, and has in fact continued to fall, coverage standing at 80% in 2003/4 compared to peak coverage of 92% in 1995/6.

The 5-in-1 vaccine has been introduced after government experts recommended the discontinuation of the oral polio vaccine, which can cause the development of paralytic polio, albeit in a very small number of cases.

Another advantage to the inactivated polio vaccine (IPV) element in the new 5-in-1 combination is that it does not contain thiomersal, a mercury-based preservative which has remained a source of controversy despite strong evidence that it is safe.

Professor Adam Finn, professor of paediatrics at the University of Bristol, said: "The switch to  'a cellular' whooping cough vaccine and inactivated polio vaccine is a really important step forward for the UK vaccine schedule for infants.

"We are going to see reductions to even lower rates of side effects, like fever and swollen arms, and a final disappearance of the last few cases of polio."

There has been some concern among campaigners that the 5-in-1 jab would 'overload' children's immune system, but this was denied by the Department of Health.

Dr David Salisbury, head of immunisations at the DH, said: "We will actually be giving children far fewer ingredients, not more, so all the mumblings that have been going on about overloading the immune system are the wrong way round."

Developed with an educational grant from Aventis Pasteur MSD, an updated version of the Childhood Vaccination Factfile has been published to coincide with the new vaccine to help practice nurses, health visitors and other healthcare professionals.

Dr Nick Kitchin, medical director at Aventis Pasteur MSD, said: "There's an awful lot of misinformation in the public domain about vaccines and vaccination and the Factfile gives those [healthcare professionals] who talk to parents and children on a day-to-day basis ready access to information to help them answer the sort of questions they will face."

First published in 1999, shortly after the MMR combined vaccination scare, the Factfile was jointly put together by the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) and the Community Practitioners' and Health Visitors' Association (CPHVA).

Sara Richards, vice-chair of the RCN Practice Nurse Association and one of the authors of the Factfile, said: "This type of educational information, in this format, is long overdue: the Childhood Vaccination Factfile will provide a convenient, credible, accurate and consistent resource for practice nurses and health visitors.

Copies of the Childhood Vaccination Factfile will be available from Aventis Pasteur MSD sales representatives and can be found online at: or

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