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Flu vaccine proving more effective among children than adults in England

Good news, says Public Health England, because children are ‘super spreaders’ of flu

Good news, says Public Health England, because children are ‘super spreaders’ of flu


Children receive the flu vaccine via a nasal spray. Picture: Alamy

The flu vaccine is proving more effective in children than in adults, mid-season figures suggest.

Data from Public Health England (PHE) show the nasal spray flu vaccine is 87% effective in children aged 2-17 against the main circulating flu strain, influenza A(H1N1)pmd09.

The vaccine is 39% effective against the same strain in adults in at-risk groups aged 18-64.

No data is yet available for the over-65s or for other flu strains.

Upward trend

The figures show that more children than ever are being vaccinated, although take-up is much lower in younger age groups.

Last year’s final figures from PHE for the flu season of 2017-18 showed that the vaccine was just 15% effective, on average, in all age groups. This included effectiveness of about 27% in children aged 2-17, 12% among people in at-risk groups aged 18-64, and 10% in individuals aged 65 and over.

Crucial protection

PHE head of immunisation Mary Ramsay said: ‘It is encouraging to see that this year’s vaccines are offering a high level of protection against the main circulating strain of flu – particularly for children.

‘Children tend to be "super spreaders" of flu, and so protecting them is crucial for protecting the rest of the population.

‘We’re pleased that more parents have been taking up the offer of vaccination for their children, and we encourage anyone who is eligible to do so every winter.’

Saving lives

Health and social care secretary Matt Hancock said: ‘Our world-leading vaccination programme saves lives, and I urge all parents of young children to make sure their child is vaccinated against flu and other childhood diseases.’

Latest vaccination figures for NHS staff in England, published last month, showed only a small increase on the same period the year before.

Meanwhile, figures are still awaited on whether NHS front-line healthcare staff have been redeployed for choosing not to have the flu vaccine.


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