Scientists are recommending that children should be first in line when swine flu vaccinations become available this autumn.
Children are usually not protected against seasonal flu, unless they have particular medical conditions, such as asthma, which can put them at greater risk of health problems.
However, researchers at Warwick University have suggested that by vaccinating children, this could help to stem the pandemic.
Around 60 per cent of swine flu sufferers in the UK are children and teenagers. One of the reasons for this is because older people appear to have some level of immunity to the H1N1 virus.
Vaccinating children not only protects them but also makes it less likely that their parents and other family members they’re in close contact with get the disease.
Study researcher Professor Keeling has advised that vaccination is probably unnecessary for babies up to six months who have some birth immunity and medical advice would be needed on whether it’s right for children aged 6-12 months.
A vaccine is currently being developed by at least two pharmaceutical companies and it was hoped that the first supplies would be ready at the end of August. However, the head of the World Health Organisation has now cast doubts on this date, and has suggested it will take several months to mass produce a safe vaccine.
Nearly 10,000 people have now been affected by swine flu in the UK and it’s thought this number will continue to rapidly increase over the summer. However, in the majority of cases the virus has proved fairly mild.
Schools are no longer having to automatically close if any pupils are suspected of having swine flu. Instead parents are being contacted and warned of possible cases and given the opportunity to keep their child off school.
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