Children between 4-10 years old will be vaccinated using a nasal spray from September, the government has announced.
The Joint Committee on Vaccines and Immunisation (JCVI) recommended earlier this year that the routine annual flu vaccination be extended to all children between 2-17 years old.
The government believes this will lower the public health impact of flu by directly averting a “large number of cases”.
In turn, this could reduce flu-related illness, GP consultations, hospital admissions and deaths.
The JCVI believes this will be “highly cost effective”.
The letter states: “We anticipate that as flu immunisation for children becomes accepted as routine, this will have a positive impact on uptake rates for others who are eligible for flu immunisations, particularly those clinical groups for whom the risk of serious complications is highest.”
Fluenz is the vaccine being used for most children. However, JCVI has advices that most children should be offered a single dose of the nasal spray vaccine, rather than two as the manufacturer suggests.
Children in clinical risk groups over two, but under nine years old should be given two vaccines at least four weeks apart.
The JCVI’s full second letter on the Children’s Flu Plan for 2013 is available on the Department of Health website.