'Vaccinate families against swine flu first'

Schoolchildren and their parents should be the first members of the population to be vaccinated against swine flu to best prevent its spread, according to research.



The recommendations come as the government figures showed the number of people being diagnosed with the virus in the UK is now falling steadily, with an estimated 11,000 new cases in England last week, down from 25,000 the week before.

The vaccination study by American scientists, published yesterday in the online version of the journal Science, concluded that the most effective way to protect the population would be to prioritise the immunisation of school pupils and their parents, as these groups are most likely to transmit swine flu to others.

The researchers looked at data collected during earlier flu pandemics in 1918 and 1957, in an attempt to locate the groups of people who would be best to target with a vaccine.

“We find that optimal vaccination is achieved by prioritisation of schoolchildren and adults aged 30 to 39 years,” the scientists wrote. “Schoolchildren are most responsible for transmission, and their parents serve as bridges to the rest of the population.”

The advice contradicts the Government’s plans for a mass immunisation campaign beginning in October, which is due to prioritise people with chronic health conditions, pregnant women and pensioners. A decision has yet to be taken about whether the rest of the population will receive injections.

The number of UK swine flu-related deaths currently stands at 59, with 10 occurring in the past week. In England, there are 263 patients being treated in hospital, down from 371 reported last week. Almost half of those who have died lived in London.

The government’s chief medical officer Sir Liam Donaldson said yesterday that it was “virtually impossible” to accurately predict when a second wave of swine flu will arrive.

A surge in the number of cases is widely expected in the autumn, when people’s immune systems are naturally weaker and schools and universities return after the summer holidays, but Sir Liam described this as only a “best guess”.

He said he hoped the current pandemic would follow the pattern of that in 1968-70, when the second wave hit at Christmas. This would give the government time to vaccinate as many people as possible.

A few weeks ago, one in four people reporting flu-like symptoms to their GP or the National Pandemic Flu Service were eventually diagnosed with swine flu; now it is one in 10.

“It is unusual to have [flu] around this time of year even at the levels we have got,” Sir Liam said. “We do expect a second wave but we can’t forecast when. The best guess is it will be this winter.”

The Health Protection Agency said that most cases of the H1N1 virus were mild, and that there was no sign of the virus mutating, becoming more severe or developing resistance to anti-viral drugs.



David Salisbury, Director of Immunisation, said: "This study is an interesting insight into the impacts of different strategies for seasonal influenza vaccination when large quantities of vaccine can be given before transmission of influenza takes place. However, we are presently in very different circumstances when there has already been much transmission of H1N1 infection amongst children. Hence, we believe that vaccination should start with individuals with risk factors for influenza (as in priority list) as they will benefit most from the early supplies of vaccine. We will review carefully subsequent uses of H1N1 vaccine either for individual protection or to reduce transmission."

Voices
The Sumatran tiger, endemic to the Indonesian island of Sumatra, is an endangered species
voicesJonathon Porritt: The wild tiger population is thought to have dropped by 97 per cent since 1900
News
Gardai wait for the naked man, who had gone for a skinny dip in Belfast Lough
newsTwo skinny dippers threatened with inclusion on sex offenders’ register as naturists criminalised
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
Beast would strip to his underpants and take to the stage with a slogan scrawled on his bare chest whilst fans shouted “you fat bastard” at him
musicIndie music promoter was was a feature at Carter gigs
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
Story line: Susanoo slays the Yamata no Orochi serpent in the Japanese version of a myth dating back 40,000 years
arts + entsApplying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
News
Performers dressed as Tunnocks chocolate teacakes, a renowned Scottish confectionary, perform during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park in Glasgow on July 23, 2014.
news
Life and Style
Popular plonk: Lambrusco is selling strong
Food + drinkNaff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
News
Shake down: Michelle and Barack Obama bump knuckles before an election night rally in Minnesota in 2008, the 'Washington Post' called it 'the fist bump heard round the world'
newsThe pound, a.k.a. the dap, greatly improves hygiene
Arts and Entertainment
La Roux
music
Arts and Entertainment
Graham Fellows as John Shuttleworth
comedySean O'Grady joins Graham Fellows down his local Spar
News
people
News
Ross Burden pictured in 2002
people
News
Elisabeth Murdoch: The 44-year-old said she felt a responsibility to 'stand up and be counted’'
media... says Rupert Murdoch
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Extras
indybest
Sport
Arsenal signing Calum Chambers
sportGunners complete £16m transfer of Southampton youngster
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ecommerce Project Manager

£450 - £500 per day + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: The opportunity:Ec...

Advertising and Marketing Communications Manager

£52000 - £58000 per annum + benefits, company car: Ashdown Group: Advertising ...

ICT Teacher

£21804 - £31868 per annum: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Are you a qualified ...

DT Design and Technology Teacher

£21804 - £31868 per annum: Randstad Education Chelmsford: We are urgently for ...

Day In a Page

The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on