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NHS considering trial of vaccine on children

11 August 2009

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Children in five English cities could be among the first to be vaccinated against swine flu if a trial to test its effectiveness in children goes ahead.

The news comes as experts at Oxford University voiced concerns that the antiviral drug Tamiflu is unsafe for children.

In response to the swine flu outbreak, the NHS National Institute for Health Research will decide whether to fund a trial to assess whether the flu vaccine is safe for use with children.

If the trials go ahead, up to 900 children, aged six months to 12 years, in Bristol, Oxford, Southampton, Exeter and London would receive the jab in September.

The prospective trials come after an adult swine flu vaccine trial, involving 175 people, began at the Leicester Royal Infirmary was carried out in July.

A trial on children will no doubt be encouraged by parents who have been warned by researchers that the flu drug used to treat swine flu can cause vomiting in some children, which can lead to dehydration and the need for hospital treatment.

A report in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) called for the Department of Health urgently to rethink its policy on giving the drugs to youngsters affected by the current flu pandemic to avoid any unnecessary ill health.

Copyright © Press Association 2009

NHS National Institute for Health Research