Single jab may cut swine flu workload

Research findings and plans to shift part of swine flu campaign to schools could cut practice work.

Andrew Lansley
Andrew Lansley

The workload involved in a swine flu vaccination campaign may be lower than GPs feared, after trials found one jab may provide immunity, and Tory leaders proposed providing jabs in schools.

Conservative health spokesman Andrew Lansley recently wrote to health secretary Andy Burnham to ask him to consider commissioning a school-based vaccination programme.

Mr Lansley described schools as 'the natural site' for mass vaccination programmes. The BCG and HPV programmes showed it was 'an efficient and comprehensive way of administering vaccines,' he wrote.

GPC deputy chairman Dr Richard Vautrey said that a school-based programme could be a workable option, pointing to the success of the HPV vaccinations. 'But there has to be a degree of flexibility if they go down that line,' he said.

'Those who miss the appointment, or just prefer to see their GP, should have the ability to do so.'

A DoH spokeswoman declined to comment on whether schools were being considered as a site for vaccinations.

The flu vaccination workload could also fall if initial trial results, showing that a single jab could offer protection against swine flu, prove conclusive.

Dr Ian Stephenson, who led a trial at the University of Leicester, said: 'Antibody responses were highest among subjects who received two doses of vaccine.

'(But) a single vaccine dose also induced responses associated with protection against influenza. The results suggest that one vaccine dose may be sufficient.'

Experts had believed two doses would be necessary, leaving practices facing a huge burden on top of the usual seasonal flu campaign.

If the finding is confirmed, many patients may be able to make a single visit to their practice to receive seasonal and swine flu jabs.

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