The British government has announced plans for a new combined vaccination for babies and children

The British government has announced plans for a new combined vaccination for babies and children. A single jab will protect children against diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough), Haemophilus influenzae type B (Hib), and polio.

The new vaccine replaces the separate vaccines already administered to babies. The polio vaccine will be incorporated into the single jab and will no longer contain a live version of the polio, removing the theoretical risk of contracting the disease. The whooping cough component of the vaccine is also new and should cause fewer of the minor reactions seen in children.

The new vaccines are also mercury free, meeting the internationally-agreed aim of reducing children's exposure to mercury where possible.

Health Minister, John Hutton said:

"Immunisation is the best way to protect children from serious disease and the routine childhood programme has been extremely effective in achieving this. The changes set out today will further improve the programme and benefit children. The polio component is safer than the previous oral vaccine and the switch to acellular pertussis will mean children are less likely to suffer from minor reactions such as swelling and redness."

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