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30.05.12

Flu vaccination for five year olds

Extending the flu vaccination programme to all schoolchildren could be the most cost-effective way of reducing the spread of the virus, the joint committee on vaccination and immunisation has suggested.

Vaccinating all children from the age of five would reduce the impact of the illness in the UK, they stated.

However, such a scheme would be expensive and could face public opposition. There are currently too few school nurses to implement an extension of the programme, and a public information campaign would be necessary, so the committee suggested the extension should only be introduced in 2014.

In draft minutes, published on the Department of Health website, the committee said: “Resources should not be removed from the current national immunisation programme or from local immunisation-related resources to implement and deliver an expanded influenza vaccination programme.

“Furthermore, it would be inadvisable to introduce this very large immunisation programme into the NHS until the large scale restructuring of the health and public health system inEnglandhad been completed and the new system was running smoothly.”

A Department of Health spokesperson said: “The joint committee on vaccination and immunisation has said it is unable at this stage to recommend an extension of the flu vaccination programme as there are a number of issues that it believes need further consideration – for example, the public response to such a programme.

“Extending the vaccination programme to healthy children would be a huge undertaking, increasing the number of people who get the vaccine, so it is important that we get this decision absolutely right.”

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