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Featured Friday, Sep 11 2020

NHS commissioners and school nurses work together to ensure the safe delivery of the flu vaccination to over 99,000 children across Berkshire

NHS commissioners and nurses from Berkshire’s School Immunisation Team are working together to ensure the safe delivery of this year’s seasonal influenza (flu) programme for school-aged children.

Nurses from the team will be returning to primary schools across East and West Berkshire between mid-September and December to offer the free flu vaccine to all children aged 4 to 12 years (date of birth between the 1 September 2008 and the 31 August 2016), from Reception to Year 1,2,3,4,5 and 6.

They will also be attending local secondary schools to vaccinate Year 7 pupils only as they have been added to this year’s flu programme.

The children’s vaccination comes in the form of a child-friendly nasal spray which delivers a painless spray into each nostril. It is needle-free, quick and painless.

Charlotte Church, Immunisation Service Lead for Berkshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We’re expecting to offer the flu vaccination to over 99,000 pupils in schools this autumn compared with around 88,000 last year.

“I’d like to reassure parents, carers and children that the delivery of the flu programme will be carried out safely whilst following measures that remain in place in light of Covid-19.”

Jo Greengrass, Associate Director of Nursing Quality and Safety for the Frimley Collaborative, said: “This year, more than ever, it is really important that everyone who is eligible to receive the flu vaccine has it to help us help you stay well this winter. This includes children.

She added: “The annual immunisation provides important protection to individual children and helps reduce the spread of flu to their friends, families and the wider community, protecting younger siblings, grandparents and others who are at increased risk of becoming seriously ill from flu.

“It is also really important that we all continue to adopt good hand hygiene practices and to also remember to ‘Catch it. Bin it. Kill it.’ to stem flu infections.”

Flu can be a very unpleasant illness in children, causing symptoms such chills, aching muscles, a headache, a stuffy nose, a dry cough and a sore throat. Some may develop a very high temperature or complications of flu, such as bronchitis, pneumonia and a painful ear infection.

In addition to the school’s flu programme this year, GP practices will continue to provide the vaccine only to preschool aged children, aged 2 and 3, and those children who have an underling health condition that puts them in an ‘at risk’ group for flu.

However, if your child (Reception to Year 7) has an underlying health condition that puts them in an ‘at risk’ group for flu, and you do not want to them to wait until their school’s flu session, then they can access the flu vaccine via their GP.

For those children whose parents refuse the nasal spray on the grounds of cultural or religious grounds due to the porcine gelatine content, they may be offered the injectable vaccine as an alternative this season. However, it is important for parents and carers to understand that the alternative vaccine will not be available until November and only then if there was sufficient stock. This applies regardless of whether your child is being vaccinated in school or at their GP practice. Priority will also be given to children who have an underlining health condition that puts them at increased risk from flu.

For more information on children and flu vaccination, visit nhs.uk/child-flu


Notes to editor: There is an animated video that has been produced by other NHS colleagues which provides an overview of flu and the nasal spray, which can be accessed via You Tube: