All children under five should get flu jab to cut infection rate by 70%, says study
05th August 2008
Children under five already receive 13 vaccinations
Giving children a flu vaccination could prevent the virus spreading among older people, research suggests.
The Health Protection Agency said an annual jab for children under five could help protect the whole population.
As children have lower immunity and come into close contact with family and each other they are often prolific spreaders of the virus.
But the side-effects of the vaccination in children are not yet known, according to the Joint Committee on Vaccinations and Immunisation (JCVI).
In 2005 the committee advised that more work needed to be done before flu immunisation in children could be considered.
However, children already get 13 vaccinations by the time they are five to protect them from various illnesses.
Dr George Kassianos, immunisation spokesperson for the Royal College of GPs, told the BBC that the college had been calling for the introduction of influenza vaccination in children for the past five or six years.
He said: '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.'
Professor Steve Field, chairman of the Royal College of General Practitioners, said the vaccination would need to be given every year to be effective.
'We know that influenza affects the vulnerable - the elderly and the young - and we also know that flu causes a lot of problems in terms of health and also with the economy, with people being off work and so on,' he said.
'We welcome this (HPA) analysis but also believe that extra work needs to be done.'