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All children over 5 should be vaccinated with the flu jab, say government advisers

Published on 30/05/2012

Government health advisors recommend that all children should be vaccinated against flu from the age of five to stop them spreading the illness among their families.

Under new plans, put forward by a panel of independent advisors which advises the government, school children over the age of five would be vaccinated each year with a nasal spray that avoids the use of needles.

Currently, the seasonal flu jab is recommended for people on the NHS that are 65 years old or over, are pregnant, have a serious medical condition, are living in a long-stay care facility, are the main carer for an elderly or disabled person, or are a frontline health or social care worker.

This means that only children with serious long-term illnesses are given the flu jab, despite receiving 12 vaccines against eight other diseases by the time they start school.

A study published last year found that immunising healthy children would prevent eight in ten flu infections and free up 79,000 GP appointments a year.

The new vaccine, made by AstraZeneca, was licensed in December and contains three strains of flu. It is given in two doses four weeks apart, and can cause side effects like headaches, loss of appetite, fever and muscle pain.

Experts say that vaccinating children would be more cost effective and prevent spreading the illness in adults. Dr George Kassianos, spokesman on immunisation for the Royal College of GPs, said: "It will be beneficial to children and will benefit other patients as well.”

"If we can reduce the infection rate among children we can reduce the morbidity and death rate in the community generally, and especially among the elderly."

The panel is in the final stages of evaluating research before formally recommending the expansion of the programme. The committee said it would produce recommendations, which are binding on the Department of Health, at its next meeting.

If you are worried about the health of your child, look for a health insurance policy that covers all members of the family.

© ActiveQuote Ltd. 2012

Categories:  Health
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