The UK will make history in 2014 when a scheme rolls out to give all children in the country a vaccination against the flu, completely free of charge. The move comes after Health Secretary Andrew Lansley accepted the recommendation from experts that taking such moves to vaccinate against the flu could save up to 2,000 lives each year – not just from the children, but the adults and elderly who could get their deadly bouts from children.
Reducing infection rates
In fact, vaccinating just children could reduce the overall rate of flu infection by 40 percent, according to the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation. This board advises the government on vaccination issues and has influenced the new policy of vaccinating all children, which is projected to cost £100 million a year. The move will make the UK the first country in the world to offer the flu jab to all children.
Currently, only adults and children who have a serious medical condition, pregnant women, and over-65s are eligible for the free seasonal flu jab. With the programme expanding to all children, experts predict 11,000 fewer people will need to be admitted to the hospital in addition to the 2,000 deaths that will be prevented each year.
Younger children will get the flu vaccine, which will come in the form of a nasal spray, from their GP. All others will get their vaccine at school.
There are still some things that need to be worked out, however, as the Department of Health will need to ensure that enough vaccine for 9 million children can be sourced. There is also the issue of whether healthcare workers or school nurses should deliver the vaccines.
Win for low-income families
The free flu jab is a positive thing for all of Britain, considering the thousands of lives it will save, but it is particularly good for low income families who may not have opted for the flu jab themselves because of budget constraints. It also means parents have a smaller likelihood of contracting the flu from their children, which would have cost them much more than a flu jab in missed work and medical prescriptions.
Despite much criticism of the government in the latest recession, they have introduced health reforms like these and savings reforms like the Junior ISA to help children, which almost everyone can agree upon. While the flu jab will save lives, the government-launched Junior ISA is an attempt to make it beneficial for families to save for their children’s futures. Parents can save up to £3,600 a year with providers like Shepherds Friendly, completely tax-free.