On September 4th, Wyeth's pneumococcal disease vaccine, Prevenar, will be launched as part of the UK childhood immunisation programme.
This coincides with a new Department of Health to make parents more aware about pneumococcal diseases like meningitis, pneumonia and septicaemia. Additionally, children who have already started their vaccinations in the last two years will be eligible for entry through a catch-up campaign, organised by local GPs.
Children under two are most susceptible to the disease - out of the 530 who contract the disease each year, 50 are expected to die.
Caroline Flint, health minister, remarked: "This vaccine will help save lives and prevent hundreds more cases of serious illness such as meningitis and pneumonia."
Philip Kirby, chief executive of the Meningitis Trust, added: "Vaccination is the only way to prevent meningitis and we welcome these changes as it will help save lives."
Wyeth's UK medical director, Dr David Gillen, said that his company was "proud" to produce Prevenar because it would decrease the chances of children developing the severe and life-long side effects associated with pneumococcal disease, such as cerebral palsy, deafness and blindness.
Pneumococcal disease can also affect adults, with the risk of contracting the disease increasing in those aged 45, rising sharply in over-75s, according to the NHS.
It is more likely to occur in patients with weakened immune systems, like cancer patients or those without spleens.See all the latest jobs in Pharmaceutical