Immunising all school-age children against flu would be a cost-effective policy, but there are not enough school nurses to implement it, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has said.
The committee held a special meeting last month to discuss expanding the annual immunisation programme to all primary and secondary school children. It concluded that a school-based programme would be the best way to proceed.
However, the JCVI acknowledged that if such an expansion were introduced, nurses in other settings - such as general practice - could be required to take on some of the workload, because 'there are far too few school nurses' to deliver a programme of this size.
It recommended that the DH investigate using 'alternative persons to administer influenza vaccine'.
'The influenza vaccination of children is likely to be a cost-effective public health intervention that could ... appreciably lower the public health impact of influenza in the UK,' the committee concluded.
Sharon White, professional officer at the School and Public Health Nurse Association, said: 'Our concern is that with an already over-stretched school nurse workforce, this cannot and must not be undertaken without sufficient resources.'