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Under fives swine flu vaccination a 'waste of resources', say most GPs

By Gareth Iacobucci

Exclusive: The majority of GPs believe that vaccinating all healthy children under the age of five against swine flu is a poor use of NHS resources, a Pulse survey has found.

In a snapshot poll of 146 GPs, 56% said that the Government's extension of the swine flu vaccination campaign to all children under the age of five was not 'a good use of healthcare resources'.

The findings came as NHS managers claimed that GPs in some areas have now completed the vaccination of priority groups at their practices, and are now concentrating solely on vaccination of the under-fives.

Just over a third (34%) of respondents to Pulse's survey, conducted over the past week, said their practice had now signed up to a local deal to carry out swine flu vaccination of the under fives, with a further 44% currently engaged in local negotiations.

GPs also backed the GPC's decision not to agree to a national deal on vaccinating under 5s, with three quarters supporting their negotiators' stance.

Elsewhere, two thirds felt that the Government's target for GPs to vaccinate 50.7% of patients in priority groups will not be achievable.

Dr Benedict Glover, a GP in Glenarm, Northern Ireland, was one of those to express scepticism about the vaccination programme.

He said: ‘This programme should cease immediately. It is a waste of resources and finance to treat normal healthy patients for a trivial condition.'

Dr Babak Shokouhi, a GP in Worthing, West Sussex, said uptake was flagging as patients remained unconvinced. ‘Patients are dubious about vaccinating their children and there's a lack of confidence [in the] Department of Health,' he said.

But others adopted a more cautious tone. Dr Stephen McCluskey, A GP in Portadown, Northern Ireland, said: ‘We should pick our battlefields more carefully. We will never win in the eyes of the public if we used children as a bargaining tool.'

Meanwhile, NHS bosses in the southwest of England said some GPs in the area had completed their vaccinations of those in the higher-risk groups, and were now focusing on vaccinating the under fives.

Dr Julia Verne, regional deputy director of public health at NHS South West, said: ‘Monitoring of the pandemic so far shows that otherwise-healthy children who catch swine flu are more likely than those in other age groups to need admitting to hospital, and significant numbers require critical care.'

Swine flu vaccination

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