Doubts raised over possible flu jab for babies

Health visitors have questioned plans under consideration to give babies a flu jab as a way of reducing the number of old people who catch the disease.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation is looking at proposals to offer vaccination against influenza to all children under two.

However, minutes from a meeting of the subgroup of the committee in September suggest that a vaccination strategy for pre-school children would only be cost-effective if it resulted in significant reductions in flu in adults.

Flu is responsible for around 18,000 deaths each year and 800,000 GP consultations, and older people in particular are prone to catching the infection from children.

The subgroup admitted more work was needed on the efficacy of the benefits of the vaccine to children themselves before a final recommendation could be made.

The Community Practitioners’ and Health Visitors’ Association agreed that more information was needed.

“As an organisation, we are in favour of the immunisation of babies as part of the overall public health strategy, but we would like to see on what evidence these recommendations have been based before reaching a definitive decision to support these proposals,” said education officer Val Thurtle.

“Babies and infants receive a full range of immunisations in the first years of their life, we want to be 100 per cent sure that this is not one injection too many.”

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