14 Sep 2004 - Australia's first 6-in-1 vaccine now available for babies
(Not intended for US media)
Australia's first 6-in-1 vaccine now available for babies.
A new six-in-one combination vaccine is now available for Australian babies, providing protection against potentially life threatening or disabling diseases.
Associate Professor John Ziegler, Head of the Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases, Sydney Children's Hospital, Randwick said today that the availability of the six-in-one vaccine was a welcome development in childhood immunisation.
"Taking babies along for immunisations can be an overwhelming and emotional experience for both parents and the babies – especially in view of the potentially daunting number of shots they need to have in their first year of life," Professor Ziegler said.
"There is the concern as more injections are recommended for babies that parents will opt to delay giving all the required vaccines in the one visit.
"Delays in completing the baby's immunisation schedule not only places the baby at risk of potential disabling and life threatening diseases, it may also place the community at risk by jeopardising Australia's high immunisation rates."
The current childhood immunisation program funded by the Federal Government requires babies to be given two injections as well as the oral polio vaccine at two and four months. With the introduction of Government funding for the pneumococcal vaccine in January 2005 this will increase to three injections at each visit as well as the oral polio vaccine.
The new six-in-one combination vaccine, contains the antigens for six of the seven diseases babies at 2, 4 and 6 months of age are currently recommended to be vaccinated against1 - diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, hepatitis B, polio and Haemophilus influenza type b (Hib).
Infanrix hexa, manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline, has been researched in Australia as part of the international clinical trials program.
Dr Peter Richmond, Senior lecturer in the School of Paediatrics and Child Health, University of Western Australia, said that anxiety about taking babies for their immunisations was one of the issues immunisation providers faced when dealing with parents.
"Despite the relatively simple procedure, the experience can be upsetting for parents and we would like to make this process as easy as possible," Dr Richmond said.
In addition to Infanrix hexa, a new five-in-one vaccine is also available which provides protection against diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, hepatitis B and polio. This vaccine provides the flexibility for immunisation providers to give the Hib vaccine separately to suit the needs of the indigenous population.
The move to inactivated polio based combination vaccines was endorsed last year by the Federal Government's expert medical advisors - the National Health and Medical Research Council1 – and the vaccines are already being used in other countries.
The Federal Government has yet to make a decision on funding the vaccines, although the Labor Party has made a public commitment to fund the vaccines should it be elected.
The new combination vaccines are available on private prescription.
Infanrix hexa is generally well tolerated and has a similar safety profile when compared to the concurrent administration of the separate vaccines included in it. As with other vaccines, babies can develop reactions around the injection site and fever, which usually clear up within a few days. For further information please refer to accompanying Consumer Medicines Information.
1. National Health and Medical Research Council. The Australian Immunisation Handbook 8th edition, 2003. p2-3 & p36.
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