Children in England to get flu vaccine at age 2 years from September

BMJ 2013; 346 doi: (Published 29 April 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;346:f2792
  1. Zosia Kmietowicz
  1. 1BMJ

All children aged 2 years in England—around 650 000 in total—will be offered a nasal flu vaccine from September 2013 as part of new vaccines schedules announced by the Department of Health and Public Health England.

A small number of pilots to vaccinate primary and pre-school aged children will also run this year, and pilots for secondary school children will run in 2014, to make sure that the NHS is ready to roll out the programme to vaccinate these two groups of children in 2014 and 2015 respectively.

Infants under 4 months old are also to be vaccinated against rotavirus from July. Every year rotavirus causes around 140 000 cases of diarrhoea in under 5s and around 14 000 hospitalisations. It is estimated that the rotavirus vaccine will halve the number of cases caused by rotavirus and reduce hospital stays by up to 70%.

Mary Ramsay, head of immunisation at Public Health England, said, “The introduction of the oral rotavirus vaccine in the US and parts of Europe has had a major impact on preventing young children from developing this unpleasant vomiting and diarrhoeal disease. In the countries where the vaccine has already been introduced, the uptake has been high and has resulted in rapid and sustained reductions in childhood rotavirus hospitalisations.”

After evaluating the evidence the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation has also decided to recommend a shingles vaccination programme for people aged 70, starting in September. There will also be a catch-up programme for those aged up to and including 79; an estimated 800 000 people will be eligible for the vaccine in the first year. A 2005 study found that vaccinating adults 70 years or older reduced the incidence of shingles by 38% and reduced the burden of illness by 55% in those who developed shingles.1 A more recent study from the United States of more than 750 000 adults also found that the shingles vaccine halved the incidence of the disease and reduced post-herpetic neuralgia by 40%.2 But only 3.9% of the study sample had taken up the offer of the vaccine.

A change is also being introduced to the meningitis C schedule. Starting in September a new teenage booster jab at age 12-13 years will replace the booster that is currently given at 4 months.


Cite this as: BMJ 2013;346:f2792