All children aged between two and 17 in the UK will receive a flu vaccination from 2014, the Government has announced.
The vaccination, delivered as a nasal spray, will be given to all children at either their doctor's surgery or, if they are old enough, in school.
Currently, only children in at risk groups - which includes children with asthma, heart conditions or cerebral palsy - are eligible to receive flu vaccinations on the NHS.
The decision to offer universal vaccination for children comes after health secretary Andrew Lansley asked the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), a body of independent experts who advise the Government, to look at the evidence around extending the programme.
The experts that while there are significant challenges involved in extending the programme, these were outweighed by the health benefits that a comprehensive immunisation programme could bring.
It is estimated that even a moderate take up of the scheme could see a 40 per cent drop in the number of people affected - meaning there could be 11,000 fewer hospitalisations as a result of flu and around 2,000 fewer deaths a year.
Chief Medical Officer Professor Dame Sally Davies said: "Severe winter flu and its complications can make people really ill and can kill, particularly those who are weak and frail which is why we already offer vaccinations to the most at-risk groups.
"We accept the advice of our expert committee that rolling out a wider programme could further protect children."
Story posted by Robert Mair on 25/07/2012