Winter is upon us, so it's time for the drug companies to make their usual seasonal push for us to have a flu jab. This time, though, they're targeting the kids, and those aged less than 2 years.
The UK's Department of Health recommends that only children at risk of chronic disease should have the jab, but Wyeth, the drug company, is lobbying to have the policy changed and to include all children aged under 2, irrespective of their health profile. Wyeth points to a recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine that shows the enormous success of a similar programme in the States.
We assume they won't be using as evidence a letter from Roche Pharmaceuticals to health professionals about its own flu jab Tamiflu. Tamiflu is given to children as young as 12 months, but there may a brake on the zeal that doctors have been displaying in injecting every toddler foolish enough to stagger into the surgery. Roche has revealed that, in laboratory tests, rats given the vaccine have been falling over dead.
The implication? Don't give the vaccine to kids under 12 months of age. Well, there's an admission of sorts, we suppose.
(Source: FDA database and British Medical Journal, 2003; 327: 1249).