FLU VACCINE FOR EVERY CHILD
Government advisers have said schoolchildren should be vaccinated against flu to stop them spreading the virus, report The Daily Telegraph (p1), The Times (p17), The Guardian (p5) and the Daily Mail (p17).
According to the newspapers the universal vaccine programme could start in the autumn of 2014 using AstraZeneca's Fluenz nasal spray.
At present only children with serious long-term illnesses are given the seasonal flu jab, but the government's Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation has told the government that a universal child vaccination programme could save lives.
The source of the article are minutes of a meeting held last month by the committee, which were originally uncovered by GP Magazine, a publication for UK generalist doctors.
The committee's remit covers England and Wales but it also provides advice to Scotland and Northern Ireland.
According to the Telegraph, the committee, will produce a decision, which is "binding" on the government, at its next meeting.
A spokesperson for England's Department of Health is quoted by the Telegraph as saying: "Extending the vaccination programme to healthy children would be a huge undertaking ... so it is important that we get this decision absolutely right."
DOCTORS "FIXATED ON TREATMENT"
In a long feature, The Independent asks if an over-reliance on healthcare threatens to bankrupt the world. (p19)
The article is based on British Medical Journal theme issue published on Wednesday, which states that overdiagnosis is posing "a significant threat to human health".
More and more patients have been "sucked" into healthcare by modern medicine's increasingly finely-honed ability to recognise illness, according to the article.
In the U.S., up to $200 million is said to be spent unnecessarily, although in the UK the tax-funded National Health Service and absence of financial incentives offers some protection, according to the article.
Illustrated with an eye-catching picture of the British comedian Tony Hancock, who famously portrayed a hypochondriac, the article also provides some statistics from the BMJ to back up its argument that society has an "unhealthy obsession" with sickness.
One in three patients with breast cancer detected by screening may not need treatment, 30% of those diagnosed with asthma may not have the condition and 80% of people with near normal cholesterol levels may be on drugs for life with no benefit.
The article concludes that the BMJ a decade ago called for doctors to become pioneers of demedicalisation and "resist categorisation of life's problems as medical".
As a result of the latest BMJ research, the paper says "their hour may finally have come".