UK plans flu vaccines for all children

Gary Finnegan

Gary Finnegan

August 14th, 2012

Gary Finnegan

‘All children in the UK aged between two and 17 years will be offered annual flu vaccinations after an expert committee said the move would be safe and cost-effective.’

UK-plans-flu-vaccines-for-all-childrenThe 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.

Communal benefits

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

Experts in the UK say the principle of vaccinating healthy children to benefit weaker members of society is already tacitly accepted, citing the example of rubella (or German measles) which usually causes relatively mild illness in children but can lead to serious damage for developing foetuses if women are infected in the early stages of pregnancy.