Vaccinating all schoolchildren against influenza may be most cost effective control

Vaccinating all schoolchildren against influenza is the most inexpensive way to reduce the spread of the disease, according to United Kingdom Department of Health advisers.

According to the joint committee on vaccination and immunization, extending the immunization program to include all children above the age of five would significantly reduce the impact of the disease in the United Kingdom. Expanding the program, however, would be costly and would likely receive mixed responses from health professionals and the public, the Guardian reports.

Because the plan could not be introduced before 2014 due to a need to hire more personnel and to launch a public information campaign, the committee chose not to recommend the expansion.

"The joint committee on vaccination and immunization has said it is unable at this stage to recommend an extension of the flu vaccination program as there are a number of issues that it believes need further consideration - for example, the public response to such a program," a spokeswoman for the Department of Health, said, according to the Guardian. "Extending the vaccination program to healthy children would be a huge undertaking, increasing the number of people who get the vaccine, so it is important that we get this decision absolutely right."

The committee also said that introducing the plan would require major changes in the public health system in England.

"Resources should not be removed from the current national immunization program or from local immunization-related resources to implement and deliver an expanded influenza vaccination program," the committee said, according to the Guardian. "Furthermore, it would be inadvisable to introduce this very large immunization program into the NHS until the large scale restructuring of the health and public health system in England had been completed and the new system was running smoothly."