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4:30pm ET, 4/16



Major change in routine childhood vaccinations


CHICAGO, Illinois (CNN) -- The American Academy of Pediatrics announced one new addition to the 2001 list of vaccinations recommended for children. The new vaccine, approved for marketing by the U. S. Food and Drug Administration last year, protects children against a bacterium called pneumococcus. The additional vaccine means children should now receive 23 doses of 8 different vaccines before age 6.

The 2001 immunization schedule recommends the heptavalent conjugated pneumococcal vaccine (PCV) be given with other recommended childhood vaccines at 2, 4, 6 and 12 to 15 months of age. The number of doses required depends upon the age of the child when the vaccination is started. The PCV is also recommended for children between the ages of 2 and 5 who are considered at high risk due to a compromised immune system or a chronic disease. It should be considered for those children in day care and who have chronic ear infections.

Read the American Academy of Pediatrics' 2001 vaccination schedule

Pneumococcal disease can cause meningitis and bacteremia, a severe bloodstream infection. Both infections can be deadly or cause long-term side effects such as deafness, mental retardation and learning disabilities. Studies show the vaccine is 100-percent effect against these two conditions.

The vaccine also helps protect against the most common cause of ear infections in children. While PCV does not protect against all ear infections, studies show children who are vaccinated were 23-percent less likely to have frequent bouts of ear infections and 20-percent less likely to need ear tube surgery.

For children who begin vaccination with PCV in infancy the cost is about $230. Older children need only one dose, which costs about $58.

The other recommended vaccines protect children against diseases ranging from hepatitis B and polio to chicken pox.

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CDC - Facts About the Childhood Immunization Initiative
Summary of Rules for Childhood Immunization
MEDLine - Childhood Immunization
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