Group Advises Adding Multiple Vaccines for Kids

WASHINGTON, June 26 (Reuters) - U.S. immunization advisers have suggested using two new vaccines that will greatly reduce the number of jabs that babies and children get to protect them from a range of diseases.

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommended adding the choice of two more multiple vaccines as part of the regular childhood schedule -- Sanofi Aventis' SASY.PA Pentacel, which protects against five infections at once, and GlaxoSmithKline's GSK.LGSK.N Kinrix, which protects against four of them.

U.S. children are vaccinated against at least 14 different infections multiple times. Most vaccines require multiple doses to become fully protective, meaning children get up to five shots over each of several visits.

The combined vaccines mean fewer injections, and experts hope it means parents will be more likely to get their children fully vaccinated.

Pentacel was licensed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration last week for immunization against diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis or whooping cough, polio, and Haemophilus influenzae type b, or Hib.

"The vaccine is indicated for the first four doses of the components in the vaccine at ages 2, 4 and 6 months, and a 15-18 months booster as a primary series," the CDC said in a statement.

Kinrix was licensed on Tuesday as a booster for diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, and polio. It is indicated for the booster dose at ages 4-6 after Glaxo's Pediarix, another multiple vaccine for use in younger children, or after children get the vaccines one by one.

"Eligible 4- to 6 year-olds can receive protection against four serious diseases with one less shot," Glaxo's Wayde Weston said in a statement.

The ACIP, which advises the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, voted to include both vaccines in the Vaccines for Children program. That means the federal government will provide the vaccines free of charge to needy children under 18.

U.S. children from birth to age six are vaccinated multiple times against hepatitis A and B, rotavirus, diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, Haemophilus, pneumococcal bacteria, polio, measles, mumps, rubella or German measles, chickenpox or varicella.

Parents can also choose to get them vaccinated against meningitis-causing bacteria and influenza.

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