Toddler flu jab 'by next year'

Toddlers could be included in the annual flu campaign from as early as this year, a member of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has said, although he expects 2007 to be a more likely date.

Birmingham GP and member of the JCVI influenza subcommittee Dr Douglas Fleming said that if the committee decided at its March meeting to introduce flu jabs for the under-twos, there was 'a remote possibility' that GPs would have to begin the work in the 2006/7 flu season.

Last summer, GP reported that the JCVI wanted to include children aged six to 23 months in the annual flu jabs. However, in September the subgroup decided more work was required before it would make any recommendations to the DoH.

Dr Fleming said: 'Even if we reach a decision at our next meeting, it doesn't follow that it would apply this year. It's more likely to be the year after.'

He added that although a decision could be reached in March, it could be delayed further.

Brighton GP and chairman of the Primary Care Virology Society Dr Nigel Higson said if toddlers were to be included from 2006/7 the JCVI would have to reach a decision by March to ensure GPs had sufficient time to place their vaccine orders.

Dr Peter Stott, a GP with an interest in flu who practises in Tadworth, Surrey, said: 'June would be too late for us to order in the vaccine.'

Dr Stott wants the DoH to take over supplying the vaccine for any new group added after the last order date.

www.advisorybodies.doh.gov.uk

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