By Kimberly Bond
Thousands of five-to-seven year olds across the country will be able to have the flu jab in school this winter as the Government rolls out the second part of their immunisation programme.
For the first time in 2015/16, all children in school Years 1 and 2 are to be offered the flu jab for free as they become eligible to have the vaccine in school for the first time.
The children will be given the jab at school via a nasal spray – with some schools starting their immunisation programme this month.
The new scheme is part of the government hopes that the NHS will be able to eventually offer the flu jab to all children under 17 every year.
Flu, or influenza, can be particularly nasty in children and those at risk, especially pregnant women and those over 65. Symptoms present themselves as a cold, but may also be accompanied by a headache, a dry cough or diarrhoea and vomiting.
Last year, over 150,000 children in Primary schools across the country, including Greater Manchester, Cumbria and Lincolnshire, trialled having the nasal spray available for all of the children in the school.
Results from these pilot areas found that fewer patients of all ages visited their GP or attended A&E with influenza-like illness and respiratory problems compared to non-pilot areas. These pilot areas will continue with the scheme in 2015.
Dr Graham Wardman consultant in screening and immunisation at Greater Manchester’s Public Health England Centre said: “It is very important that people take steps to protect themselves and their loved ones during the winter months.
“Flu is a really unpleasant illness, particularly for our most vulnerable patients and I would urge those who are offered the free flu vaccination to visit their GP early in the flu season.
“Pre-school children can be protected against flu by a simple, quick and painless nasal spray, whilst people with certain long-term health conditions can protect themselves from flu by taking up the offer of free vaccination from their GP as soon as it becomes available.”
All two, three and four year olds will continue to be offered the vaccination via the GP.
You can read the most commonly asked questions about the flu vaccine for children on the NHS website.
Do you have any thoughts about the flu vaccine? Do you have a child who will be having the vaccine through school this winter? Let us know!