Fighting Flu – Campaign to Vaccinate Thousands of Children Gets Underway

Over the next three months, around 24,000 primary school pupils across Forth Valley will be offered the flu vaccine as part of a national campaign to vaccinate children aged between 2 and 11 years. The vaccinations for primary school aged children will be carried out during school hours with children in P1 – P7 being offered the nasal spray, Fluenz Tetra.® The programme is being delivered in collaboration with local authority education departments.

Fluenz Tetra® will also be offered to around 8,700 pre-school children from the age of two to 5 years of age who will receive the vaccine from local GP practices.

NHS Forth Valley Consultant in Public Health Medicine and Immunisation Co-ordinator, Dr Henry Prempeh said: “This vaccine offers excellent protection against the types of flu virus which are most likely to be circulating this winter, protecting children against a nasty infectious disease which could end up with them having to be treated in hospital. Evaluation of last year’s programme confirmed just how beneficial vaccinating children has been to all age groups, adults and children.”

Minister for Public Health and Sport Aileen Campbell said: “Flu can hit even the healthiest children hard, so its vital parents consider getting their child vaccinated before winter sets in as the virus spreads more easily when temperatures are low.

“Not only will it protect your child, but it also reduces the risk of the infectious virus being spread to others who may be more vulnerable.”

The childhood flu immunisation programme is an extension to the existing annual flu vaccination which targets people aged over 65 or those under 65 with chronic illnesses which can make flu much more dangerous. These include people with heart disease, chest complaints such as bronchitis, emphysema or asthma, chronic kidney failure, cystic fibrosis, lowered immunity due to disease or treatment, diabetes or liver problems. Pregnant women, unpaid carers and healthcare staff are also eligible for vaccination.

During the 2015/16 campaign NHS Forth Valley again achieved the highest uptake of the flu vaccine by over 65s and unpaid carers compared with the rest of Scotland.

This year the immunisation team will also be assisting with raising awareness of the importance of flu vaccination amongst local healthcare staff. A new campaign highlighting five facts about flu will encourage healthcare workers to protect themselves, their patients and their families by getting vaccinated.

More information about the childhood flu vaccine and its benefits can be found on the Immunisation Scotland website or by calling NHS Inform on 0800 22 44 88.