Babies need as many as nine shots against certain diseases during their first year of life, which can mean many tears and certain discomfort. But a British pharmaceutical company is seeking U.S. approval for a vaccination that can protect children against five different illnesses, reports CBS News Health Correspondent Dr. Emily Senay.
SmithKline Beecham's new combination vaccine covers five childhood diseases - diphtheria, whooping cough, tetanus, polio and hepatitis B.
Currently, the American Academy of Pediatricians recommends that infants receive shots against those diseases, as well as for chicken pox, measles, mumps, rubella and meningitis.
With SmithKline's vaccine, year-old infants would only need three shots to be protected against the five diseases. They would receive the shots at two months, four months and six months of age.
The vaccine has been tested in the United States in three clinical trials including more than 7,000 infants.
SmithKline Beecham has asked the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for an expedited review for its combination vaccine, already available in Europe. An expedited review means the government would have six months to consider whether to approve the drug.
"Anything that reduces the number of injections will be welcome by medical providers and parents," said Dr. Melinda Wharton, chief of child vaccines at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.
Combination vaccines are not new in the United States. Diphtheria, whooping cough and tetanus are already covered in one combined vaccine, as are the measles, mumps and rubella. Polio and hepatitis B vaccinations are given separately. Each vaccine is given three times in the first year.
Several pharmaceutical companies are working on combination infant immunizations, though SmithKline is the only company seeking U.S. approval for a vaccine that protects against five diseases.