JCVI discounts swine flu risk of seasonal flu jabs

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has discounted data suggesting that seasonal flu jabs could double the risk of developing swine flu, GP newspaper can reveal.

Photograph: COURTESY OF CROWN COPYRIGHT FERA/SPL
Photograph: COURTESY OF CROWN COPYRIGHT FERA/SPL

The Canadian research, currently going through peer review, is based on data from British Colombia, Quebec and Ontario. It appears to contradict a recent Mexican study which found that the 2008/9 seasonal flu jab could offer some protection against swine flu.

Led by Dr Danuta Skowronski of the British Columbia Centre for Disease Control and Dr Gaston De Serres of Laval University, Quebec, the study has prompted some Canadian states to delay seasonal flu jabs.

The findings come as GPs across the UK begin their seasonal flu campaigns.

CMO for England Sir Liam Donaldson told GP newspaper last week: ‘Other experts are sceptical about this finding. It is not substantiated by other data worldwide, but it is something we have asked the JCVI to look at.'

Dr De Serres said WHO had examined the research and he expected it to be published.

A WHO spokesman said: ‘The strategic advisory group of experts on immunisation, which provides recommendation for WHO, will meet at the end of October. This will be one of the issues they discuss.

‘There is no change in the WHO's guidance on seasonal flu vaccines.'

Sir Liam said the JCVI will also consider evidence that one dose of the swine flu vaccine could offer enough protection.

Earlier this month a letter from DoH immunisation director Professor David Salisbury to PCTs in England said practices could expect to receive the first batches of the swine flu vaccine by 19 October.

But at a briefing last week, the CMO said there was no ‘precise date'.

‘We still have to get the first substantial doses of vaccine from GSK, but that delivery is imminent,' he said.

‘We are confident that we will be able to start vaccinating the population before the end of this month.'

A DoH spokesman said on Tuesday: 'The JCVI has considered the Canadian report suggesting a link between seasonal influenza vaccination and susceptibility to swine flu and has unequivocally discounted its findings.

'There has been no evidence from research in Australia, the US and the UK to support any such link.

'The WHO has also considered the report and discounted its findings. The WHO's current view is that no country should change its position on vaccines on the basis of the Canadian study.'

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