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Flu jab for children 'would also protect adults'

By Lilian Anekwe

Vaccinating young children against the flu would have major public health benefits and prevent the virus from circulating in the population as a whole, new research suggests.

Vaccinating children could reduce the incidence of flu in the population by as much as 70%, and would ‘bring benefits to both those vaccinated and the community'.

The impact of a vaccination programme would depend greatly on the age range of the children included in the campaign.

A campaign that targeted children aged between six months and six years would reduce the annual incidence of clinical cases in the overall population caused by the influenza A virus by as much as 38%, and reduce illness caused by influenza by up to 70% (see table, attached).

The modelling study, by researchers at the Health Protection Agency, is published online in the journal Vaccine.

Children aged from two months to six years are already vaccinated against the flu in the US.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation considered a flu immunisation programme in children in 2006, but decided not to make the recommendation to health ministers.

RCGP spokesperson Dr George Kassianos said the research backed the College's long-standing call for the introduction of influenza vaccination in children.

‘The children themselves fare very badly from influenza but they are also the source of infection for many adults.

‘There is an urgent need for the JCVI to review their decision', he added.

Professor John Oxford, professor of virology at Barts and The London, Queen Mary's School of Medicine and Dentistry, said there was a difference between modelling data and real world outcomes.

'Mathematical modelling is not quite the same as real data. The JCVI will want to be 100% sure of the evidence.'

Modelling data on the impact of childhoold flu vaccination Vaccinating children against flu could also benefits adults Vaccinating children against flu could also benefits adults

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