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No-Dealing with the Flu

Written by Science

The NHS has announced that every child between the ages of two and 11 will be offered a nasal-spray flu vaccination, this year – even if we leave the EU with no deal on October 31st.

The announcement comes just a month after the release of the Yellowhammer Papers, where the UK government confessed that there may be medicine shortages up to six months after a no deal Brexit. However, the Deputy Chief Medical Officer for England, Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, has stated that there is no possibility that there will be a shortage of flu vaccines as the initiative has been “very carefully thought through” with most of the needed vaccines arriving well before deadline day.

Last year, 72% of people over the age of five were vaccinated against the virus, which claimed roughly 1,700 lives. This year, the NHS is targeting 75%. Young children, in particular, are being targeted due to their role as “super spreaders”. A study by the University of Warwick in 2013 found that young children have more “social encounters”, per day, than any other demographic. Their healthy immune system can prevent the disease from displaying symptoms – allowing them to unknowingly pass it on to their potentially much more immunologically fragile grandparents.

Some critics, however, are suggesting that the NHS needs to look closer to home. The same study by the University of Warwick listed healthcare workers as one of the adult demographics with the most “social encounters”. However, only 70% of NHS workers received the flu vaccine last year. Professor Van-Tam argues that NHS workers have a responsibility to get the vaccination, as they are working with potentially vulnerable people, who are putting a lot of trust in them.

 

Last modified: 18th October 2019

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