NHS urges parents of secondary school-aged children to take up school flu vaccine offer, amid rising cases

NHS urges parents of secondary school-aged children to take up school flu vaccine offer, amid rising cases

Secondary school flu vaccination has started in the North West this month, with school vaccination teams already taking the vaccine out to pupils to ensure they have the best protection this winter.

The NHS is once again offering the flu vaccine, which is usually given to children as a nasal spray, to secondary school aged children in years 7 to 9. Parents of those who are eligible are asked to return their consent forms to school as soon as possible.

Vaccination teams will be visiting schools across the region through December and January to ensure as many eligible young people as possible can get their vital protection.

Children and young people often catch and spread the flu very easily, and parents are being urged to take up the vaccination offer as soon as their children are invited.

Flu, which is caused by the influenza virus, can be a very unpleasant illness for children and can sometimes lead to more serious illnesses such as pneumonia or bronchitis. When children have the nasal flu vaccination, it can not only protect them, but can stop the spread to other, more vulnerable groups.

The latest data from the UK Health Security Agency shows rates of hospitalisation for flu has risen more than 14% in the North West in the past week.

Parents of children in school years 7-9 will receive a consent form and leaflet inviting them to take up the opportunity to have the flu vaccine in school.

The nasal spray, which is offered to eligible children every year to protect them from flu, is free on the NHS to the following groups:

  • children aged 2 or 3 years on 31 August 2022 (born between 1 September 2018 and 31 August 2020)
  • all primary school children (Reception to Year 6)
  • some secondary school aged children
  • children aged 2 to 17 years with long-term health conditions
  • If your child is aged between 6 months and 2 years and has a long-term health condition that makes them at higher risk from flu, they’ll be offered a flu vaccine injection instead of the nasal spray. This is because the nasal spray is not licensed for children under 2 years old.

Tricia Spedding, who is Head of Public Health at NHS England – North West and leads the regional flu vaccination programme, said: “In the North West, we have seen flu related hospitalisations rising week on week and the flu vaccine is our best defence to keep us safe this winter.

“The nasal spray is quick and painless, and should your child catch the flu after having it, the illness is less likely to make them seriously unwell. Any side effects will be very mild and shouldn’t last more than a day or so.

“Vaccination teams will be visiting schools across the region throughout December and into the new year and I would urge the parents of eligible secondary school-aged children to return their consent forms and take up the offer when they visit your child’s school.”

Eligible people need to have a flu vaccine every year because the viruses that cause flu can change. This year’s flu jab is a good match for the type of seasonal flu that is currently circulating (H3N2), and is the best and most effective way to protect ourselves, and our loved ones this winter.

Categories: Health