PARENTS are being urged to use paracetamol to ward off fever in babies who receive a new vaccine.

From September 1 infants from Scotland and England should be offered an injection to prevent meningitis B at the ages of two months, four months and a year.

The scheme has been described as the first national, publicly-funded vaccination programme against the deadly infection in the world, immunising children when they are most vulnerable to the disease.

However, the vaccine is known to trigger a fever and infant paracetamol is being recommended to combat this problem.

A letter from Catherine Calderwood, Scotland's Chief Medical Officer, to all GPs reads: "Fever is a common side-effect when infants are given the Men B vaccine with other routine childhood vaccines. The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation has therefore recommended that a total of three doses of infant paracetamol are given to babies after their routine vaccinations at two and four months."

The letter continues: "The first dose of infant paracetamol will be given by the healthcare professional at the same time as the routine vaccinations and a prescription will be given to parents/guardians of the infant following vaccination for two further doses at four to six hourly intervals."

Dr Mary Ramsay, head of immunisation at Public Health England, has underlined the importance of using paracetamol.

She said: "It's important that parents use paracetamol following vaccination to reduce the risk of fever. The fever peaks around six hours after vaccination but is nearly always mild and gone within two days.

"The fever shows the baby's body is responding to the vaccine, although the level of fever depends on the individual child and does not indicate how well the vaccine has worked - some infants may not develop a fever at all."

Around 1200 people, mainly babies and children, get meningitis caused by the meningococcal group B bacteria each year in the UK and around one in 10 die from the infection.