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Published by Kate Squires

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Published by: Kate Squires on Jan 23, 2012
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 High cost of kids with flu is avoidable, study shows
High cost of kids with flu is avoidable, study shows
 By SARAH PRICE455 words30 July 2006Sun HeraldSHDFirst38English© 2006 Copyright John Fairfax Holdings Limited. Not available for re-distribution. FLU in children costs the community three times as much as illnesses caused by other viruses, researchhas found, prompting calls for a publicly funded flu vaccination program for children.
The average cost of a flu infection was $741 a child compared with $253 for respiratory illnesses causedby other viruses, said researcher Dr Stephen Lambert.
"Children are a powerhouse of the influenza infection," said Dr Lambert, of the vaccine andimmunisation research group with the School of Population Health at the University of Melbourne andthe Murdoch Childrens Research Institute.
The results of Dr Lambert's study on preschool children will be presented to the Public Health Association of Australia's National Immunisation and Asia Pacific Preventable Diseases Conference,which starts today in Sydney.
"Cost is something we need to think about when making an argument for a free vaccination program for children," Dr Lambert said.
"Flu is an illness that occurs every year. When it comes it causes a lot of disruption."
That includes the time parents need to take off work to care for a sick child, and then the disruptioncaused when the parents contract the virus themselves.
"The infection is a relatively costly illness compared to all the other coughs and colds children get," hesaid.
The 12-month study looked at 234 children in Melbourne who were younger than five.
Ten per cent of children in the study were struck down with the flu.
Dr Lambert said 10 per cent across a population added up to a lot of people affected, particularly whenthe flow-on effects of others contracting the virus was considered.
"They're really the driving force or the engine behind transmitting to other people.
"Not only are there potential benefits in vaccinating children and protecting children themselves againstit, but there are also benefits in stopping transmission to parents and grandparents."
Dr Lambert said that while more research needed to be done, including on the effects of immunisingchildren, there was mounting evidence flu was a big problem.
Dr Lambert acknowledged there might be concern among parents about the fact that influenzavaccination was not a one-off vaccination, but needed to be administered before each flu season, whichwould also make such a program costly.
 Australian Vaccination Network spokeswoman
Meryl Dorey
said she could not imagine any cost-benefitequation that would make a flu vaccine of any use in Australia.
Ms Dorey also questioned its effectiveness.
"Children do not have high morbidity from flu," she said.
"It [the vaccine] may not even touch the strain that's in the community."
Page 2 of 4 © 2012 Factiva, Inc. All rights reserved.
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Page 3 of 4 © 2012 Factiva, Inc. All rights reserved.

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