Children’s flu shot may reduce risk of Strep A, research suggests Science and technology news


The childhood flu vaccine may also reduce the risk of contracting Strep A, according to research by the UK Health Authority (UKHSA).

The vaccine, administered as a nasal spray, is offered annually to preschool and elementary school children.

A new study compared rates of Streptococcus A in areas where all young children were offered the vaccine and in other areas where it was phased in by cohort.

The results showed that between 2013 and 2017, rates of Strep A in children between the ages of two and four varied from 73.5 per 100,000 in areas where the vaccine was widely available to 93 per 100,000 elsewhere.

The difference was less pronounced in the five to 10 year olds, with 57.8 per 100,000 developing Strep A in areas with widespread coverage compared to 50.3 per 100,000 elsewhere.

However, there was no difference in scarlet fever or severe invasive group A streptococcal infection (iGAS).

dr Jamie Lopez Bernal, UKHSA Consulting Epidemiologist for Immunization and Countermeasures, said: “Our results suggest that the nasal spray vaccination programme, which provides very good protection against influenza, may also help reduce the rates of (Strep A) -Decrease infections among children.

“Children who contract influenza are at greater risk of secondary infections, including group A streptococci, so these results provide even more reason for parents of eligible children to suggest them for the flu shot.”

“This is particularly important at this time, as we are seeing unusually high rates of group A streptococcal infection across the population.”

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What is Strep A?

The UKHSA said it is “not too late” for children to get the flu shot.

Parents of preschool children should make an appointment with their GP. Those with older children should contact their school.

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