All primary school children now eligible
Public Health England is urging parents and guardians to take up the offer of a free childhood flu vaccination in school this year.
- Every winter, around September/October parents will be asked to sign or electronically complete a consent form allowing their child to be vaccinated against flu.
- More than 60 percent of school aged children take up the flu vaccine
- Flu vaccine is offered in the school setting from Reception to Year 6
- Flu vaccine is free and is given as a simple nasal spray – no more injections
- Flu vaccine uptake by age group and local authority area – table 1
- Last winter, 9 year old Henry Riley from Cornwall was hospitalized with the flu. This year, Henry and his mum Janine want to encourage children to get the flu vaccine to protect them from catching the flu. Watch Henry’s story.
We know that children, even with the best intentions, frequently forget to wash their hands or cover their mouths and noses when they sneeze or cough. This means that children readily spread infections to other family members and friends.
By vaccinating all primary school children we not only help protect children from a nasty illness but also reduce their ability to be these “super spreaders” of this infection.
Vaccinating the school population also helps to protect siblings, parents, grandparents and other vulnerable people and reduces the impact of flu on the rest of the wider community
Dr Julie Yates, Head of Screening and Immunisation at PHE South West said:
“We are so pleased that Year 6 children are now eligible for the flu vaccine which means that all children in primary school can now have this vaccination at school.
“Flu is a really nasty bug and it is not like having a cold. It can have serious complications and can be life threatening. At the very least it can knock you off your feet for days.
“This means absence from school for children and time off work for parents, not to mention the possibility of spreading the bug in families especially in the older more vulnerable community.
“We know that most parents are great at taking up the offer of a flu vaccine for their children. Last year, 62 percent of school aged children had the vaccine in the South West and the region vaccinated 233,309 children, but we want to do better.
“If all eligible children are vaccinated this will help us all and could significantly reduce the number of people getting flu in the wider community.”
“If your child is in primary school (Reception – year 6) they will be offered a free flu vaccination at the school.
“The vaccine for children is no longer an injection; it is a simple nasal spray that takes just a few seconds to administer.
“However to be vaccinated, the flu vaccination school health team have to you’re your consent to give the vaccine and if this hasn’t been received your child may miss out. “
Miss Parr, Head Teacher of Oaklands Primary School, Yeovil said:
“As a Head Teacher and someone who has experienced the effects of flu both personally and in school life, I want to urge parents and carers to make sure they take up the offer of a free flu vaccination for their child.
“Last year we had an outbreak of flu at our school. At one point, 30 out of 80 staff were absent including myself and the Deputy Head. Many of the children were also affected, especially children in Year 6 where the vaccination was not administered.
“We know that absence can have a significant effect on a child’s learning as well as being very disruptive to family life. This is why, this year, I am so passionate about making sure every child who is offered the flu vaccination takes it to ensure they have some protection.
“If you have children of primary school age, I would recommend that, as soon as you get the information and consent form from your child’s school, you sign and return it as soon as possible.
“The sessions are always well organised; it usually only takes a child away from their class for few minutes to get their nasal spray vaccination”.
“Some schools across the South West are trialling electronic consent and you will be told about this where it is happening. If you are given a link please go online and complete this and remember to check junk folders if you were expecting it and nothing arrives.
“In other areas, a paper consent form or letter will be sent home, so please check those book bags and rucksacks for the letters and get the consent form signed and back to school ahead of the immunisation session.
It is important to be aware that the vaccine is also available for children aged 2 and 3 years. It is equally important to get these young children vaccinated so if you have children in these age groups contact your GP surgery to make an appointment”
For more information on the vaccine visit the flu pages on the NHS choices website at www.nhs.uk/child-flu