Flu can virtually be wiped out if all children under 16 are
given jabs to fight the disease, suggests a new report.
The Health Protection Agency (HPA) has estimated that giving
every baby and schoolchild in England and Wales the jab could reduce cases of
the main strains of the disease by up to 97 per cent.
Ensuring that all babies between the ages of six months and
two years received a flu shot could cut the number of cases by between one
tenth and a fifth, according to the analysis.
The HPA estimates are based on preventing the two main
strains of the virus, known as Influenza A and Influenza B, thought to be
responsible for nine out of 10 flu cases in Britain.
However, the agency said that it was not yet advocating the
widespread use of the vaccine in young people and described the results as
Professor Steve Field, chairman of the Royal College of
General Practitioners, said that vaccinating young children could be beneficial
but that more research was needed into all aspects of the jab.
"This vaccination would need to be given every year to
be effective. We know that influenza affects the vulnerable - the elderly and
the young - and we also know that flu causes a lot of problems in terms of
health and also with the economy, with people being off work and so on," the
Telegraph quoted him, as saying.
"We welcome this analysis but also believe that
extra work needs to be done," he added.