Page last updated at 17:05 GMT, Saturday, 3 October 2009 18:05 UK

Child swine flu jab trials begin

A swine flu vaccine
The study will monitor side effects of the two vaccines

About 1,000 children are taking part in a study testing two swine flu vaccines ahead of a UK vaccination programme.

Information about their use in children is limited and the study will allow experts to monitor immune reactions and any side effects.

The trial, which began on Saturday, will involve children aged between six months and 12 in Oxford, Southampton, London, Bristol and Devon.

Millions of doses of the vaccines have been purchased for use across the UK.

Participation in the scheme is voluntary and consenting parents will be briefed on the risks.

Children who take part have two doses of the vaccine three weeks apart, followed by a blood test three weeks later.

'Largest number'

Dr Saul Faust, senior lecturer in child health at the University of Southampton, said of the Southampton trial: "This weekend we are trying to enrol around 200 children... which we think is the largest number of people ever to be enrolled in a clinical trial in such a short space of time in the UK.

"What we are trying to do is to find out if one of the vaccines is better than the other in terms of immune reactions, particularly against swine flu, but also to make sure that one of the vaccinations doesn't have worse side effects than the other."

We really need to know this effect before we see a wider vaccination in the UK
Dr Saul Faust

Scientists have enough older children taking part in the study but have appealed for more children under the age of three to take part over the weekend.

Dr Faust added: "This is the age group which doesn't respond to vaccinations as well as adults and we really need to know this effect before we see a wider vaccination in the UK."

Adam Finn, professor of paediatrics at Bristol University, has previously said that evidence of the effects on children was urgently needed.

He said: "Young children, particularly under five, do seem to be at risk of serious illness.

"And secondly there is clear evidence that flu epidemics and pandemics are spread very efficiently by children.

"Children simply infect each other and their parents very efficiently and for that reason a hugely effective strategy to controlling epidemics of this kind is to immunise children."

The Department of Health estimate they will have enough vaccine for half the population by the end of the year.

Vaccination is expected to start with high risk groups, the very young, elderly and medical staff.

Print Sponsor

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific