Pneumococcal vaccine now available to New Brunswick kids

Young children and infants in New Brunswick are being offered a new publicly funded pneumococcal vaccine as part of improvements to the provincial childhood immunization program.

Health Minister Mary Schryer announced today that New Brunswick will be among one of the first provinces to make this vaccine available to children and infants, starting Thursday, July 1.

"We recognize that immunization is the best way to protect children from a wide range of infections and diseases," Schryer said. "The new vaccine will enhance routine immunizations for children while reducing hospitalizations and illnesses associated with invasive pneumococcal disease."

Invasive pneumococcal disease is a serious bacterial infection commonly associated with severe respiratory tract infections. It is one of the leading causes of illness, hospitalization and death worldwide.

Prevnar-13 is a recently approved pneumococcal vaccine that protects against 13 different strains of this bacteria. This vaccine will replace Prevnar, which has been a part of the New Brunswick childhood immunization schedule since 2005.

The vaccine is publicly funded for children who are eight weeks to 12 months old. Children up to 23 months old who received the older vaccine will also be able to obtain the vaccine as part of a catch-up program. In addition, the vaccine will be available to children 24 to 59 months old who are considered at high risk.

The cost of delivery of vaccinations for invasive pneumococcal disease for children is estimated to be almost $2 million each year.

Individuals are encouraged to contact their local Public Health office for information about vaccination schedules.

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