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Healthy children to be given flu jab

Wider coverage will benefit whole community say experts

Jo Carlowe

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Flu vaccine is likely to be offered to healthy children by autumn 2014 following a review by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation.

Currently, the JCVI recommends that only children over six months in at-risk groups should receive the seasonal flu jab. The committee said more evidence was needed before the programme was extended.

However, following a review of the evidence the JCVI has reported that after an initial study by the Health Protection Agency, it might be cost-effective to vaccinate healthy children to prevent the spread of flu.

Healthy children, should, says the committee, be given a single dose of the Fluenz nasal spray vaccine as part of a school-based programme.

"However, further data is needed before the committee is able to make a recommendation to Government on vaccinating healthy children," it said in a statement.

A Department of Health spokeswoman said that the JCVI has not yet made a final decision on this issue and that the recommendations would be considered at the committee’s June meeting.

But the Royal College of General Practitioners welcomes the move in principle. Its immunisation spokesman GP Dr George Kassianos said a wider vaccination programme would benefit the whole community.

“If we can reduce the infection rate among children we can reduce the morbidity and death rate in the community generally, and especially among the elderly.”

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