The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), which advises the UK government on vaccination policy, said that the plan would significantly reduce the number of flu cases in children as well as in vulnerable groups.
Sally Davis, England’s Chief Medical Officer, said that while children who are immunised will benefit directly by avoiding an unpleasant illness, vaccinating children will also have a major benefit for older people and babies.
“It means children won’t be bringing flu home to their families. Their baby brothers and sister, their elderly grandparents [and] their families at large will be protected,” she told
Even if only 30% of children take up the offer, there will be 11,000 fewer hospitalisations and 2,000 fewer deaths each year, Prof Davis said.
The vaccine, which will be delivered using a nasal spray, is unlikely to be available until 2014 at the earliest, according to reports. In the UK, the injectable flu vaccine will continue to be offered to the over-65s, pregnant women and those with medical conditions such as asthma.
The expert group recommending the move said an information campaign for parents, children and healthcare staff is essential if the plan is to be successful. This is likely to include communicating the concept of