Vaccination to children prevents swine flu

Researchers suggest that all children should be offered swine flu vaccination that could help to control the spread of pandemics such as the current. Targeting children is the best way of using limited supplies of the vaccine currently being developed. Children are not normally given protection against seasonal flu unless they have medical conditions such as asthma which put them at greater risk.

Since the WHO declared a pandemic global H1N1 swine flu, all countries are looking ways to control the spread of the disease. According to a report around 60 % of Britons struck by swine flu are children & teenagers, partly older people because they appear to have some level of immunity to the H1N1 virus. Giving vaccine to children not only protects them but makes it less likely that adults they are in contact with will become infected.

The researchers showed the disease is likely to spread fastest in densely-populated towns and cities, suggesting these should be priority areas for tackling the spread. A vaccinating entire household at random was an inefficient use of resources. Instead, vaccinating key individuals offered sufficient protection to others in their household. Although a simplification of the complex reality of pandemic flu transmission is a robust argument for vaccinating children.

Prof Keeling said, "Our models suggest that the larger the household - which in most cases means the more children living at home - the more likely the infection is to spread. This doesn't mean that everyone in the household needs to be vaccinated, but suggests that vaccination programs for children might help control a potential pandemic.” Target children for vaccination would not only help protect those at greatest risk of exposure to the virus, but would also offer protection to unvaccinated adults.

This so-called "herd immunity" effect would mean that significantly less vaccine would be necessary to help control the spread of the virus than if it were offered to everyone.


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