London, Aug 5 : Flu can virtually be wiped out if all children under 16 are given jabs to fight the disease, suggests a new report.
The Health Protection Agency (HPA) has estimated that giving every baby and schoolchild in England and Wales the jab could reduce cases of the main strains of the disease by up to 97 per cent.
Ensuring that all babies between the ages of six months and two years received a flu shot could cut the number of cases by between one tenth and a fifth, according to the analysis.
The HPA estimates are based on preventing the two main strains of the virus, known as Influenza A and Influenza B, thought to be responsible for nine out of 10 flu cases in Britain.
However, the agency said that it was not yet advocating the widespread use of the vaccine in young people and described the results as "preliminary".
Professor Steve Field, chairman of the Royal College of General Practitioners, said that vaccinating young children could be beneficial but that more research was needed into all aspects of the jab.
"This vaccination would need to be given every year to be effective. We know that influenza affects the vulnerable - the elderly and the young - and we also know that flu causes a lot of problems in terms of health and also with the economy, with people being off work and so on," the Telegraph quoted him, as saying.
"We welcome this analysis but also believe that extra work needs to be done," he added.