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Flu death figures to be revealed

27 January 2011

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An expert has called for all children under five to be vaccinated against flu as figures detailing the number of people who have died from the illness during the recent outbreak are set to be released.

Professor John Oxford said he would be “surprised and disappointed” if the government failed to offer the flu jab to youngsters next winter.

Prof Oxford criticised the “muddled” policies surrounding this year’s outbreak, and called for the UK to follow in the US and Canada’s footsteps by vaccinating under-fives.

A total of 254 people with flu have died in the UK since October 2010, figures from Health Protection Agency disclosed.

Of the 210 cases where information was available on age, seven deaths were among children under five, 11 among those aged five to 14, 137 aged 15 to 64, and 55 aged 65 or over.

Despite urges to vaccinate healthy children against flu, the government withstood the calls, saying expert guidance stated there was a good amount of immunity among under-fives.

Experts at the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) also point to evidence suggesting youngsters are frequently suffering from respiratory illnesses other than flu.

Copyright © Press Association 2011

Department of Health