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Flu jabs for children

Portfolio politics

Louise Newson

Monday, 06 August 2012

flu_jab.jpgThe Department of Health’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation has recently announced that all children in England are to be given the seasonal influenza vaccine. This programme is thought to be rolled out in 2014 and offered to all children between the age of 2-17 years.

This is thought to lead to a reduction in people infected with influenza by 40% which would mean at least 11,000 fewer hospital admissions due to influenza and around 2000 fewer deaths each year.

Most of the 9 million children in this age group will be offered Fluenz, which is given as a live attenuated vaccine that comes as a nasal spray. This will obviously be much more acceptable to children.

However, it is not suitable for a small number of children who have certain conditions (such as conditions that can weaken the immune system, or having a severe egg allergy). These children will be offered alternative flu vaccines.

Although children are at a low risk of developing complications from influenza, this decision has been made as children have a very close physical contact with people and therefore vaccinating them will reduce the spread of influenza.

However, all this comes at a cost of £100 million. The UK will become the first country to offer the flu vaccine to healthy children free of charge.

It does seem a really sensible move. My concern though is that we will be inundated with parents this winter requesting prematurely that their son or daughter is given the vaccine.

Author's Image

Louise Newson

Louise is a part-time GP in Solihull, as well as a writer for numerous medical publications, including www.patient.info. She is an Editor and Reviewer for e-learning courses for the RCGP. She is an Editor for Geriatric Medicine journal and the British Journal of Family Medicine. Louise has contributed to various healthcare articles in many different newspapers and magazines and is the spokesperson for The Information Standard. She has also done television and radio work. Louise is a medical consultant for Maverick TV and has participated regularly in ‘Embarrassing Bodies Live from the Clinic’. Louise has three young children and is married to a consultant urological surgeon. Although her spare time is limited she enjoys practising ashtanga yoga regularly and loves road cycling – she has raised over £2K for a local charity, Molly Olly Wishes by competing in a 120km cycle ride!
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