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Flu vaccines for all children

All two to 17-year-olds in the UK are to be offered annual flu vaccinations. The children will be immunised using a nasal spray rather than an injection, starting in 2014 at the earliest.

Children 2-17 will be offered a flu vaccination

The injectable flu vaccine will continue to be offered to the over-65s, pregnant women and those with medical conditions such as asthma.

The Joint Committe on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) said the new strategy would avert a large number of flu cases among children as well as many severe cases and deaths, mostly among the elderly and others vulnerable to the infection.

Chief medical officer for England, Prof Dame Sally Davies, has said: "Even with moderate uptake of 30% it's estimated that this should result in 11,000 fewer hospitalisations and 2,000 fewer deaths each year.”

Prof Davies said most of the details of the immunisation programme had still to be worked out and the Department of Health said plans would commence in 2014 at the earliest.

Nine million children will be eligible for the nasal flu vaccine and the price tag could be more than £100m a year.
Children under nine are likely to require two doses of the vaccine spaced a few weeks apart, with older children needing one dose.

The UK is thought to be the first country in the world to offer free flu immunisation to all children. Like all other vaccines here it will not be compulsory.

All immunisation is intended to benefit the wider population as well as the individual through what is known as herd immunity. There are already examples where the benefit is largely for others.

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