Via The Guardian: Parents could be asked to administer flu vaccine to their children. Excerpt:
The NHS must find more than 1,000 extra school nurses to give the flu vaccine to healthy children under plans announced on Wednesday to expand the vaccination programme to all children aged two to 17.
Millions more people will be offered the vaccine, a nasal spray called Fluenz, under the scheme that is expected to run from 2014, the health secretary, Andrew Lansley, said. Options being considered to administer it include allowing parents to vaccinate their own children.
The decision follows a report from the government's advisers on vaccination policy, which drew on computer models to estimate that a 30% uptake of the vaccine could reduce deaths from seasonal influenza by 2,000 and lead to 11,000 fewer hospital admissions.
To meet the demand, advisers on the joint committee on vaccination and immunisation (JCVI) said the NHS needed several times as many school nurses, or others who could safely administer the spray, at least for the intense two-month period each autumn before the flu season begins. Schools in the UK currently have the equivalent of 1,168 full-time nurses.
The government is in discussions with the health regulator, the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Authority (MHRA), about whether parents, teachers and others trained by nurses can take on the role of administering the vaccine to children. "We are exploring all options at the moment," a spokesperson for the Department of Health told the Guardian.
David Elliman, a consultant in community health at Great Ormond Street hospital in London, said he had "immense concerns" about the resources needed to implement the plan, and criticised the JCVI for not making public the models used to arrive at the estimates.
"School nurses are already very hard stretched and come nowhere near delivering the basics from the Healthy Child Programme. If this is just added in to their workload, it will devastate their morale. If it is carried out by 'lay personnel' is this appropriate? Giving immunisations involves much more than just administering the vaccine, but counselling parents and, where appropriate, the young people. Lay people would not have the knowledge to do this," he said.