The UK's immunisation schedule has been expanded to include three new vaccination programmes for flu, shingles and diarrhoea, offering millions more people protection against disease.

Following recommendations by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, from September, all children aged two, equating to around 650,000 in total, will be offered a nasal flu vaccine. 

In addition, pilot schemes will be run to test the NHS' capabilities for rolling out this programme to all pre-school and primary school children next year, followed by secondary school children in 2015.

Elsewhere, people in their 70s will be offered protection against shingles, in the hope of preventing almost 40% of the 30,000 cases seen every year in this age-group. Around 800,000 will likely be eligible for immunisation in the first year, the government said.

From July, babies under four months will now also be vaccinated again Rotavirus with an oral vaccine.

Rotavirus is a highly infectious bug responsible for a whopping 140,000 cases of diarrhoea every year in the under fives, and ten percent of patients need a hospital stay as a result of contracting the disease.

According to the Department of Health, the rotavirus vaccine will halve the number of vomiting and diarrhoea cases caused by the bug, and there could be 70% fewer related hospital stays as a result.

'Major impact'

"The introduction of the oral Rotavirus vaccine in the US and parts of Europe has had a major impact on preventing young children from developing this unpleasant vomiting and diarrhoeal disease," said Mary Ramsay, Head of Immunisation at Public Health England.

"In the countries where the vaccine has already been introduced, the uptake has been high and has resulted in rapid and sustained reductions in childhood rotavirus hospitalisations," she added.

The arrangements for protecting people against meningitis C have also been modified, with the booster shot no longer given at four months but 12-13 years instead on the back of evidence showing that it was not necessary at the four-month stage.

It is expected that these new vaccination services will cost around £25 million a year in England, but generate savings for the NHS of some £20 million a year because of fewer hospital stays, medical appointments and related prescriptions.