Child flu jabs would 'stop 80% of flu and cut 790,000 GP visits'

Immunising healthy children would prevent 80% of flu infections and free up 790,000 GP appointments a year, a health economic analysis from York University suggests.

Professor Mark Sculpher worked with colleagues from Oxford University to examine of varying degrees of immunisation coverage on the burden of the disease.

The researchers calculated that vaccinating half of those aged between 2 and 18 years old would result in a ‘substantial reduction in the annual incidence of influenza-related morbidity and mortality’. ‘Herd immunity may extend this protection to the young and the elderly,’ they said.

Professor Sculpher and his team estimate that achieving coverage in half of children would lead to 84% fewer influenza A infections and 81% fewer B infections. This equates to preventing 5.27m influenza infections a year and removing the need for 793,000 GP consultations for influenza-like illness a year.

Commenting on their findings in the journal Vaccine, the researchers said: ‘This analysis demonstrates that paediatric influenza vaccination has the potential to significantly reduce the clinical burden of influenza in England and Wales.’

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