Six children are hospitalised with pneumonia EVERY HOUR amid soaring rates of the vaccine-preventable disease, NHS figures show
- Emergency admissions have risen more than 50 per cent over the last decade
- 56,000 children from the UK were hospitalised with the condition last year
- Babies get three doses of pneumonia vaccine on the NHS before turning one
- But rates of uptake for the vaccine have plummeted in recent years, data shows
Six children are hospitalised with pneumonia every hour amid soaring rates of the vaccine-preventable disease, NHS figures show.
Emergency admissions have risen more than 50 per cent over the last decade, with 56,000 children hospitalised with the condition last year.
Babies receive three doses of the pneumonia vaccine on the NHS at eight weeks, 16 weeks and one year.
But rates of uptake for the pneumococcal vaccine have plummeted in recent years, in line with a wider fall in childhood vaccinations.
Emergency admissions have risen more than 50 per cent over the last decade, with 56,000 children hospitalised with the condition last year (stock of pneumonia bacteria)
Figures from NHS Digital show that just 92.8 per cent of children received the jabs last year, down from 94.4 per cent in 2012-13.
Last month the Daily Mail launched a major campaign to improve the uptake of childhood immunisations amid rising cases of measles and mumps.
Analysis by Save the Children and Unicef revealed that 27 children in England were killed by the disease last year.
And provisional NHS data shows that emergency hospital admissions for children with pneumonia jumped to 56,000 between April 2018 and March 2019.
More children were admitted from the most deprived areas and high rates of childhood pneumonia are also linked to air pollution, the charities added.
Pneumonia occurs when bacteria infect the lungs, causing them to fill with pus and fluid.
Symptoms include a cough, difficulty breathing and a rapid heartbeat.
WHAT IS PNEUMONIA?
Pneumonia is a type of chest infection that affects the tiny air sacs in the lungs.
The condition causes these sacs to be become inflammed and fill with fluid, making it harder to breathe.
Pneumonia is caused by bacteria or viruses, with the most common being Streptococcus pneumoniae.
It affects between five and 11 out of every 1,000 adults every year in the UK.
Anyone can suffer from pneumonia, however, at-risk groups include:
- Babies and young children
- People over 65
- Those with long-term heart, lung or kidney disease
- People with cancer, particularly those having chemotherapy
- Those on drugs that suppress their immune systems
Antibiotics or mechanical ventilator use in hospitals also raise the risk.
- Coughing up mucus
- Chest pain
- Loss of appetite
In severe cases, sufferers may cough up blood, vomit or have a rapid heart rate.
Treatment is usually antibiotics, which may need to be given intravenously in hospital in severe cases.
Source: British Lung Foundation
Pneumonia killed more children last year than any other disease, according to global estimates – 800,000 children under the age of five in 2018, or one child every 39 seconds.
These ‘staggering’ figures are compared with 437,000 children aged under five dying having had diarrhoea, and 272,000 from malaria.
Yet 71million children around the world were not vaccinated in 2018 – and one in three with symptoms do not receive essential medical care.
The charities said the UK must lead the way in tackling a ‘forgotten global epidemic that demands an urgent international response’.
Nick Roseveare, from Unicef UK, said: ‘We’re lucky in the UK that we have the NHS and a childhood vaccination programme which includes pneumonia and influenza, so fewer children get these illnesses in the first place.
‘If they do get ill, most can be treated within our healthcare system.
‘However, these findings show that for thousands of children outside of the UK, pneumonia is not an illness of the past but a killer in the present that will continue to prematurely take children’s lives if we don’t act now.
‘Pneumonia can be easily prevented and cured with simple and cost-effective measures, yet it remains the main infectious cause of death among children under five globally.
‘We can change this, we must change this.’
Kevin Watkins, chief executive of Save the Children, said: ‘These findings show pneumonia is a disease that affects the poorest children worst of all, wherever they are in the world.
‘But while British children almost always survive, millions of children in poor countries are dying for want of vaccines, a few pence worth of antibiotics, and routine oxygen treatment.
‘With such simple solutions, no child should have to die from pneumonia regardless of where they live.
‘This is a forgotten global epidemic that demands an urgent international response. The UK government must continue to invest in global efforts to tackle the pneumonia crisis so that children everywhere can access life-saving healthcare.’