Healthy young children should be inoculated with the flu, recommends a new study.
The results reported in The Telegraph showed the seasonal flu vaccine was 66% effective at preventing the virus in children.
Young children in the US and Finland have been vaccinated against flu for years, but many other countries, including Britain have not followed suit due to lack of evidence about the effectiveness of the vaccine.
However, during last year’s swine flu pandemic, many children under 5 were vaccinated in the UK. This year though, there are no plans to repeat this.
Only pregnant women will be offered the seasonal flu jab for the first time alongside people over 65, people with long term diseases and those working the frontline of healthcare.
One health expert believes that we should be targeting toddlers too.
“It is possible that you might save more lives amongst the elderly by vaccinating young children,” said Professor Adam Finn, at Bristol University, explaining that little ones are often ‘superspreaders’.
“If I were looking to introduce vaccination I would use inactivated flu jabs between six months of age and two years and then other vaccines from two to five years,” he added.
Flu is one of the top three reasons why young children are admitted to hospital in the winter. The under twos were also among the most affected during last year’s swine flu outbreak.
“We welcome this study and the information it provides on the effectiveness of flu vaccine in young children. The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation will consider the findings,” said a spokesperson for the Department of Health.