Spread Fun Not Flu!

Hundreds of brightly-coloured posters are appearing in buildings across Forth Valley including schools, health centres, community pharmacies and libraries, to highlight the start of the 2014 childhood flu immunisation campaign.

The local poster campaign, which encourages children to spread fun not flu, is also backed by a national TV, radio and press campaign which will run for several weeks across the country.

This year NHS Forth Valley is targeting a total of 33,000 children in GP surgeries and more than 120 primary schools across the health board area as part of an extended national child flu immunisation programme. The free nasal flu spray, which is quick to administer and pain free, is being offered to all youngsters between the ages of 2 and 11 although alternative forms are available for children who cannot have the nasal spray.

Primary school pupils will be offered the vaccine at either their primary school or feeder secondary school and parents are being asked to look out for, and return, the consent form which will be sent in their child’s school bag. Those aged 2 to 5 years will be immunised at their GP practice and parents will start receiving invitation letters from their local GP surgery from October 2014 onwards.

Last year in Forth Valley, a pilot scheme which trialled weekend sessions in certain schools resulted in a good uptake. As this pilot scheme proved successful, this year, NHS Forth Valley will continue with the weekend approach in local schools across the area.

Extending the flu immunisation programme to cover all children aged between 2 and 11 is not only designed to protect children from flu, but also helps prevent them from spreading the virus to others, including those most vulnerable to infection.

NHS Forth Valley Consultant in Public Health Medicine, Dr Henry Prempeh, said: “We were delighted so many parents took the opportunity to accompany their children to the weekend vaccination sessions last year. This approach not only helped reassure youngsters by having Mum, Dad or a carer there, but it also gave adults the chance to ask any questions they had about the vaccination programme. Weekend vaccinations also meant less disruption to the school curriculum.”

Dr Prempeh added: “Flu can be very serious as even healthy children can become very unwell and, in some cases, may require to be admitted to hospital for treatment. I would therefore encourage parents across Forth Valley to take up the offer of this free vaccine. It’s safe, quick and painless, and offers protection against the types of virus that are most likely to be circulating this winter.”

The national child flu immunisation programme is being introduced in phases over the next few years and once it has been fully rolled-out to cover all children aged 2 -17 years, it is estimated that the programme will prevent an additional 200 deaths from flu across Scotland, and more than 1100 hospital admissions.