UK stands by nasal flu vaccine for children as US doctors are told to stop using it

Hawkes, N. BMJ. 2016. 353:i3546

Image shows an influenza virus (orthomyxovirus) seen through an electronic microscope.

The £100m (€130m; $150m) a year childhood flu vaccination campaign in the United Kingdom will continue despite evidence from the United States that the inhaled vaccine is ineffective.

Public Health England (PHE) said that its data contradict those of the US Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, which recently advised the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to stop vaccinating children because, for the past three flu seasons, the vaccine seemed to have little effect.

All children in the UK aged 2 have been offered vaccination against flu since September 2013, and the programme was extended last year to include infant school children. It is gradually being rolled out to include all children aged 2 to 17.

PHE published provisional figures for the UK that showed that the inhaled vaccine taken by 2 to 17 year olds achieved similar protection against laboratory confirmed flu as did adult vaccines in older age groups. The vaccine prevented flu in more than half of the children given it, with an effectiveness of 57.6% (95% confidence interval 25.1% to 76%). Similar results had been reported by the Finnish National Institute for Health and Welfare, which found an effectiveness of 46%.

Richard Pebody, head of flu surveillance for PHE, said, “These findings are encouraging and in line with what we also typically see for the adult flu vaccine. There is no reason to change current recommendations regarding use of the children’s nasal spray vaccine in the UK.

Read the full article here

View the PHE figures here

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