Livewell Southwest is supporting Public Health England as it urges parents and guardians to take up the offer of a free flu vaccines for children this year.
Children 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 “super spreaders” of the 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 Public Health England, 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.
“The flu vaccination school health team needs your consent to give the vaccine and if this hasn’t been received your child may miss out.”
Some schools are trialling electronic consent and parents and guardians will be sent a link. In other areas, a paper consent form or letter will be sent home, so check book bags and rucksacks for the letters.
The vaccine is also available for children aged two and three and it is equally important to get these young children vaccinated. Just 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
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