Old people could be saved from the debilitating and sometimes fatal effects of seasonal flu with the introduction of annual vaccinations among the young, research has suggested.
But the side-effects of the vaccination in children are not yet known, according to the Joint Committee on Vaccinations and Immunisation (JCVI). In 2005, the committee advised that more work needed to be done before flu immunisation in children could be considered.
As children have lower immunity and come into close contact with family and each other they are often prolific spreaders of the virus.
The Health Protection Agency said an annual jab for children under five could help protect the whole population.
Dr George Kassianos, immunisation spokesperson for the Royal College of GPs, told the BBC that the college had been calling for the introduction of influenza vaccination in children for the past five or six years.
He said: "The children themselves fare very badly from influenza but they are also the source of infection for many adults. There is an urgent need for the JCVI to review their decision."