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Vaccine would be voluntary
CHILDREN in Southampton could be among the first in the country to try out a new swine flu vaccine.
The city is one of five areas chosen to take part in the trial for youngsters aged between six months and 12-years-old.
If funding from the NHS National Institute for Health Research is approved the trials could begin as early as next month.
As well as Southampton, trials will also take place in Bristol, Exeter, Oxford and south west London, involving around 900 children in total.
Organisers have said any participation in the scheme would be entirely voluntary and consenting parents would be warned of any risks beforehand.
Bristol University’s Professor of Paediatrics Adam Finn has helped to organise the project and said the two vaccines being piloted were “unlikely” to have any serious effects on children.
He added that the trial would help the Department of Health make decisions on any future childhood vaccination programmes.
A UK adult vaccine trial began in Leicester last week and the first swine flu vaccines are expected to be available from next month.
It is expected that vulnerable groups and front line health workers will be first in line to receive the injection.
The latest development comes after a team of Oxford University researchers yesterday urged the Department of Health to rethink its policy of giving the anti-viral drug Tamiflu to children to combat swine flu.
They said youngsters with a mild form of the illness could suffer more harm than good with the drug’s side effects including vomiting.
A total of 36 people in England have died after getting swine flu including 18-year-old Madelynne Butcher from Sholing, Southampton.