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Kids flu vaccine ruled out

By Lilian Anekwe

Government advisers have ended several years of speculation by ruling out any plans to vaccinate young children and pregnant women against flu.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation has looked at the evidence for vaccination of children several times in recent years, but has never been convinced there was enough data, and a source told Pulse the plans had been ‘put on ice'.

The Department of Health had asked its expert advisers to look again at the issue after a modelling study by Health Protection Agency researchers found 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'.

But the minutes of the JCVI's influenza sub-group make clear that flu vaccination will not be added to the childhood immunisation schedule.

The sub-group's chair, Professor Andy Hall, professor of epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said there ‘was not enough robust evidence to demonstrate current flu vaccines were effective in young children'.

He added: ‘The position of the flu subgroup has not changed.'

The sub-group also back-tracked on a previous recommendation made to the main committee, recommending that flu vaccination be offered to pregnant women in their second and third trimester, after an analysis found it was ‘unlikely to be cost-effective'.

The sub-group kept the door open by urgently requesting further data on the impact of vaccinations pregnant women on flu in young infants and the burden on the NHS, drawn from the UK general practice research database, be done ‘as a priority'.

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