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Flu vaccine to be offered to all children

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Flu vaccine to be offered to all children Flu vaccine to be offered to all children

The flu vaccination programme is to be extended to cover all children, the DH has announced.

Children in at-risk groups - such as those with asthma, heart conditions or cerebral palsy - are already eligible to receive the flu vaccine on the NHS, but under the proposals, it will be offered to all children aged between two and 17.

The programme will cost £100 million each year, and will see the vaccine offered to up to nine million children.

It follows a recommendation from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, which said that extending the programme would be a cost-effective policy.

However, the JCVI did identify significant challenges involved in rolling out the plan, stating there are currently insufficient school nurses to implement it. Such an expansion might require other nurses in other settings - such as general practice - to take on some of the workload, it said.

The DH will now look into who will deliver the vaccine; how the programme will be best delivered in a six to eight week period ahead of the flu season; and how best to talk to parents about why the vaccine is being offered.

Chief medical officer Professor Dame Sally Davies said: 'There are significant challenges to delivering a programme that requires up to nine million children to be vaccinated during a six week period and we will look at the recommendations in detail to decide how best to develop and deliver the programme.'

Even with moderate vaccination uptake, the DH said it expected to see around a 40 per cent drop in the number of people affected by flu, meaning at least 11,000 fewer hospitalisations and around 2,000 fewer deaths a year.

The programme will use a nasal spray vaccine, the DH has confirmed.

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