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Experts discuss extension to flu vaccination programme

Department of Health officials are considering a possible extension to the flu vaccination programme.

Minutes from the February meeting of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation noted the intention to discuss the possibility of extending the programme, but said it must consider the ‘capacity to deliver' and the ‘opportunity costs' of such a move.  

The minutes stated: ‘The committee noted that it would be important to consider the capacity to deliver and the opportunity costs of an extended programme. The committee noted information that had been provided by the manufacturer (AstraZeneca) of the live attenuated seasonal influenza vaccine (Fluenz®) and asked for more information on the safety of this vaccine in children with egg allergy,' the minutes stated.

The minutes said influenza activity in 2011/12 had been ‘very low' and that the number of vaccinations increased significantly as there were more people aged 65 and over.

The experts also warned that uptake from frontline healthcare staff was still too low, and also highlighted a variation in the vaccination rates between practices.

The minutes said: ‘Practices that review and adjust their methods to identify eligible patients achieve higher uptake' and said an improved standard method would be ‘valuable'.