Children to be given booster vaccine

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The Independent Online
More than 2 million children will be given a booster dose of measles, mumps and rubella vaccine this year at a cost of pounds 18m to prevent future epidemics. The Department of Health announced yesterday that, in future, children will be given the dose at the same time as the pre-school boosters of diphtheria, tetanus and polio vaccine. Under the present immunisation programme, the multi-purpose MMR vaccine is made available to all children aged 12 to 15 months.

The programme will start in October 1996 and in its first year will operate a catch-up programme for 1.3 million children aged 4-6 who missed a campaign in 1994 and have had their pre-school booster. After that, 650,000 a year are expected to be immunised.

Tony Blair was accused of running Labour like a "one-party state", by a veteran former Cabinet minister, with a warning that the Labour leadership will face a major challenge over its manifesto pledges on pensions at this year's annual party conference. Baroness Castle, the 85-year-old Labour peer, is going on the warpath to stop the party abandoning the manifesto commitment on which it fought the last election, to raise pensions by pounds 5 for single pensioners and pounds 8 a week for couples with restoration of the pensions link with earnings through State Earnings Related Pensions.

A fiery campaigner and Social Services Secretary in the Wilson government, who introduced SERPs, Baroness Castle will be seeking to mobilise support in the constituencies to have the manifesto voted on line by line at the party conference. Colin Brown

Chemical and biological warfare experts have developed new protection to replace controversial tablets at the centre of the Gulf War Syndrome row. NAPS - nerve agent pre-treatment tablets - were taken every eight hours by British troops to protect against possible Iraqi chemical attacks in the 1991 conflict.

Now, the Defence Evaluation and Research Agency has revealed plans to equip troops with a skin patch, similar to a smoker's patch, impregnated with new drugs, hyoscine and physostigmine. Dr Rick Hall, chief scientist at the Chemical and Biological Defence Establishment at Porton Down, said the new drugs provided much more effective protection than existing NAPS tablets.

A restaurateur has lost a five-year fight to clear his name, after being twice convicted of kicking to death a fellow prisoner in a police station cell. Malcolm Kennedy, 48, of Stoke Newington, north London, had protested his innocence from the outset and claimed he was "framed" by a police cover-up to protect an unidentified officer.

In 1991, he was jailed for life for murdering 56-year-old Irish labourer Patrick Quinn in the cell at Hammersmith police station, west London, but a retrial was ordered by the Court of Appeal. The 11-week retrial at the Old Bailey in 1994 resulted in his conviction of manslaughter on the grounds that he was so drunk that he could not form the necessary intent to murder. He was sentenced to nine years. Yesterday his appeal against the conviction was dismissed.

Sir James Goldsmith is to challenge David Mellor at the next election. Billionaire financier Sir James, who leads the Referendum Party, confirmed tonight that he would contest the south-west London seat of Putney, where former minister Mr Mellor has a majority over Labour of 7,526. The Referendum Party has threatened to field candidates in every constituency where the sitting MP has refused to back a plebiscite on Britain's future in Europe.

Detectives hunting the killer of schoolgirl Jade Matthews yesterday arrested a 13-year-old boy. The boy was arrested before midday and was being held at a Liverpool police station. Police said he was being quizzed in connection with the death of the pony-tailed nine-year-old, found by a Bootle railway line last Sunday week battered to death.

Rare clusters of pinhead-sized snails were given a police guard yesterday as attempts began to move them from the route of the bitterly contested Newbury bypass.

Two weeks ago anti-bypass demonstrators halted the operation, designed to shift a colony of Desmoulin's whorl snails, by obstructing access to the site - despite an appeal for co-operation from the Highways Agency. Yesterday, a cordon of 70 police officers and 150 security guards arrived before 7am and secured the area.

tectives hunting the killer of schoolgirl Jade Matthews yesterday arrested a 13-year-old boy. The boy was arrested before midday and was being held at a Liverpool police station. Police said he was being quizzed in connection with the death of the pony-tailed nine-year-old, found by a Bootle railway line last Sunday week. battered to death.

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