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News archive - September 2012

Flu vaccination for all children

Flu vaccination for all children

THE UK is to extend the flu vaccination programme to all children free of charge. Children in ‘at- risk’ groups - such as those with asthma, heart conditions or cerebral palsy - are already eligible to receive the flu vaccine on the NHS. Once the programme is up and running the vaccine will be offered to all children aged two to around 17 years on the NHS.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation has advised the Government that whilst there are significant challenges involved in extending the programme, these are outweighed by the health benefits that a comprehensive immunisation programme could bring. The most significant challenge will be in sourcing enough new vaccine as there is only one manufacturer and they will not have the capacity to deliver enough new vaccine until 2014 at the very earliest.

The programme will use a nasal spray vaccine, which has been available for a decade in the US. Once established, the new flu vaccination programme will cost more than £100m each year and will be offered to up to nine million children. Due to the nature of the flu season the vaccine will need to be given to the children during in a six to eight week period. Even with moderate vaccination uptake, the nation could see around a 40% drop in the number of people affected - that would mean at least 11,000 fewer hospitalisations as a result of flu and around 2,000 fewer deaths a year.

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