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Launch of largest ever school based vaccination campaign

National flu vaccination campaign extended this year to primary school children in years 1 and 2

Ingrid Torjesen

Thursday, 15 October 2015

Public Health England and NHS England have launched this year’s national flu vaccination programme, which for the first time is targeting the youngest primary school children.

This year, the flu programme is being extended to children in school years 1 and 2, in effort to help reduce the risk of flu in 3 million children between the ages of 2 and 6. The youngest primary school children in 17,000 schools will be eligible to receive the free nasal spray vaccine, making this the largest school-based vaccination programme ever in England.

Professor Paul Cosford, director for health protection and medical director at Public Health England, said: “If you have children aged 2, 3 or 4, or in school years 1 and 2, don’t put off taking up their free flu vaccination this season.

“GPs are offering the vaccine to children aged 2 to 4 years and in the majority of areas in England it will be offered to children in school years 1 and 2. The nasal spray vaccination is quick, effective and painless, and remains the best way to help you and your family stay well this winter.”

A pilot programme last year showed vaccinating children had dual benefit: as well as protecting them from flu, it also protects others, such as parent, grandparents and siblings, as children are ‘super spreaders’ and are much more likely to infect others.

Parents are encouraged to complete consent forms to allow immunisation teams to give the nasal spray flu vaccine to their children. Those children in areas not offering vaccination at school will be able to have vaccination at their local GP or pharmacy.

As in previous years, the adult flu vaccine will also be offered for free to those in groups at particular risk of infection and complications from flu. These include: pregnant women, those aged 65 or over, those aged under 65 with long-term conditions, people who receive a carer’s allowance or who are the main carer for an elderly or disabled person whose welfare may be at risk if they are ill

All frontline NHS staff will once again be offered a free flu jab this season in order to protect themselves and patients from infection. Last year, only 54% of staff were vaccinated. NHS leaders are today encouraging them to take up this offer as part of their duty to protect patients and keep them safe.

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