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Expert calls for routine child flu jabs

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A virus expert said he will be “surprised and disappointed” if the government fails to sanction vaccinations for children under five in time for the next flu season.

Professor John Oxford has been critical of the way this year’s flu outbreak was handled, saying it has led to “muddled” policies such as failing to immunise healthy children outside at-risk categories.

Oxford has called on the UK government to follow the example of the US and Canada to provide routine jabs for children under five.

Ministers explained that vaccinations for healthy young children were not sanctioned because scientists have said there is already high immunity in this age group.

Experts from the joint committee on vaccination and immunisation (JCVI) have also suggested that youngsters frequently suffer from respiratory problems rather than flu.

Healthy under-fives were vaccinated last year against swine flu - the same dominant strain that is circulating this year.

Prof Oxford, who is also professor of virology at Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry, said: “Other countries like Canada and the United States have vaccinated their children and we should do the same.”

He added it was too late to begin a vaccination programme of under-fives this year.

“However I would be surprised and disappointed if the government did not decide to vaccinate the under-fives next year.”

 

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