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Conservatives call for schools-based swine flu vaccination

By Steve Nowottny

The Conservative party has called for children to be vaccinated in schools rather than in GP practices to minimise the additional workload GPs face from a mass immunisation campaign.

In a letter sent to health secretary Andy Burnham at the end of last week, Conservative health spokesman Andrew Lansley urged the Government to consider a school-based vaccination programme, arguing that BCG and HPV immunisation campaigns had shown using schools to be ‘an efficient and comprehensive way of administering vaccines'.

Mr Lansley asked the health secretary what advice or evidence he had received on the relative effectiveness of a school-based vaccination programme, and added: ‘As the US Government have maintained, schools are natural sites for mass vaccination programmes.'

A Conservative party spokesperson told Pulse that fears over GP workload were behind the call, with Mr Lansley concerned that the immunisation campaign expected later this autumn did not ‘swamp GPs'.

Mr Lansley also expressed concern that pharmacists had been omitted from the initial priority list of healthcare workers due to receive the vaccine.

‘As you know, in many areas of the country community pharmacies are acting as antiviral distribution points,' he said. ‘I can see no rationale for excluding pharmacists, who are likely to come into contact with a greater number of infected people than some other categories of healthcare workers from the priority list.'

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