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Parents should use paracetamol for Men-B vaccine, PHE urges

28 August 2015

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Tell parents to give babies infant liquid paracetamol for Men-B vaccination visits, in order to reduce the risk of fever, Public Health England (PHE) urged today.

From 1 September, the MenB vaccination will be added to the NHS Childhood Immunisation Programme in England to help protect children against the disease, which can cause meningitis.

Bexsero will be used, which Dr Mary Ramsay, head of immunisation at PHE, said “has a good safety record” but causes an increased risk of fever. She recommends that infant liquid paracetamol is used for the two and four month appointment visits.

Ramsay said: “It’s important that parents use paracetamol following vaccination to reduce the risk of fever. The fever peaks around six hours after vaccination but is nearly always mild and gone within two days.

“The fever shows the baby’s body is responding to the vaccine, although the level of fever depends on the individual child and does not indicate how well the vaccine has worked – some infants may not develop a fever at all,” she added.

Giving the baby paracetamol reduces the chances of getting fever by more than a half, and reduces the risk of irritability and discomfort, such as pain at the injection site, after vaccination, Ramsay also explained. Symptoms of Meningitis B can include a high fever with cold hands and feet, vomiting and refusing to feed, agitation, drowsiness or being floppy or unresponsive, grunting or breathing rapidly or having an unusual high-pitched or moaning cry.

“A classic sign”, Ramsay said, is pale, blotchy skin, and a red rash that doesn’t fade when a glass is rolled over it. Additional symptoms include having a tense, bulging soft spot on their head (fontanelle), having a stiff neck and an aversion to bright lights or having convulsions or seizures. In March 2014, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) recommended a national MenB immunisation programme for infants using a three-dose schedule. In March 2015, the programme, using Bexsero vaccine, was announced.