An extra vaccination is to be offered to babies in England, Wales and Northern Ireland to protect them against a vomiting and diarrhoea bug.

Rotavirus infection is the most common cause of gastroenteritis (vomiting and diarrhoea) in children under five.

Nearly every child currently gets the condition by the time they are five.

But experts hope the oral vaccine, given to babies at two and three months old, will halve the number of cases seen annually.

The bug currently accounts for 130,000 visits to the GP and 13,000 hospital visits for dehydration every year.

Scotland introduced a rotavirus vaccine in May.

‘Protect your baby’

Dr Paul Cosford, director for health protection and medical director at Public Health England, said: “Rotavirus is a highly infectious and unpleasant illness that affects thousands of young children each year. “While most recover within a few days, nearly one-in-five will need to see their doctor, and one-in-10 will end up in hospital as a result.”

He added: “Although good hygiene measures can help prevent spread of the disease, the best way to protect your baby from catching rotavirus is to get them vaccinated.

“The new vaccine will provide protection to those young babies who are most vulnerable to complications arising from rotavirus.

“From now on, parents will be offered this protection alongside their baby’s other childhood vaccinations.”

Further new vaccinations against shingles, meningococcal C and flu will be introduced later this year.

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