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Infant vaccination schedule to change, says JCVI

by Julie Griffiths
8 August 2022

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The infant vaccination schedule is set to change within the next three years, the  Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has said.

In interim advice published on Friday, JCVI said the vaccination schedule at 12 months could change after 2025 because of the discontinuation of a vaccination against MenC.

The JCVI said that it had been notified of the discontinuation of Menitorix, which is used to boost protection against Hib and MenC vaccine, because of a commercial decision made by marketing authorisation holder GSK.

Menitorix is currently given at 12 months alongside a dose of pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV), MMR and meningococcal group B vaccine (4CMenB).

It is the only Hib/MenC combination vaccine currently available on the market.

JCVI estimates that there are enough stocks of Menitorix to continue the current routine schedule until 2025. But after that date, there would need to be a change to the routine infant vaccination schedule, it said.

It has advised that MenC vaccines for infants were no longer recommended as it was ‘very unlikely that an infant or toddler MenACWY immunisation campaign would be cost-effective’.

Currently, vaccination to protect against MenC is given at 12 months (Hib/MenC) and 14 years (MenACWY).

There have been significant declines in the spread and detection of invasive meningococcal disease in the community, said the JCVI.

The reduction in a drop in incidence is the result of the successful teenage programme and the pandemic, which introduced social distancing and lockdown measures.

This means an infant vaccination ‘may not need to be maintained, as a result of reduced transmission leading to herd immunity’, the JCVI has said. 

Continued efforts to sustain and improve coverage of MenACWY in adolescents are important to maintain herd immunity, it added.

Other advised changes would be to offer an additional dose of Hib-containing multivalent vaccine at ages 12 or 18 months. If it were given at 18 months, this would require the creation of a new immunisation visit. 

There would also be a change to the second dose of measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine. This would be brought forwards from three years 4 months to 18 months of age.

The JCVI has discussed options for the necessary changes to the schedule in February 2020, June 2021, December 2021 and June 2022.