September 18 2014 Latest news:
Thursday, September 4, 2014
A pioneering pilot programme to offer children flu vaccinations at school is to be rolled out.
For the first time children in years 7 and 8 are being offered the vaccination as part of a county-wide pilot scheme.
As part of the programme each child will be offered the vaccine as a simple nasal spray which is painless and a quick alternative to an injection.
Alan Murray, cabinet member for health and adult care at Suffolk County Council, said: “This vaccination programme is designed to protect children against flu which can be an unpleasant illness and, although rarely, can sometimes cause serious complications.
“Additionally, by having the flu vaccination, children are less likely to pass the virus on to friends and family, some of whom may be at greater risk from flu if they are an infant, an older person or someone with an underlying health condition.”
A series of pilot vaccination programmes were successfully carried out last year in primary schools in several regions around the country.
Letters and information leaflets have been sent to parents explaining the programme in detail as well as answers to some commonly asked questions about flu and the vaccination.
Last year only 10% of children between two and 16 were vaccinated for flu out of more than 116,000 registered patients in Suffolk.
Dr Paul Cosford, director for health protection and medical director at Public Health England, said: “The pilots are an important addition to the national programme and are being carefully planned for the second year running.
“They are helping us to understand the best way to implement the programme nationally, ensuring that we can set up a successful and sustainable programme, vaccinating children and young people to protect them and the wider population.
“It’s important that children take up the offer of a vaccination if offered to them later in the year. Every year, hundreds of thousands of people may see their GP and tens of thousands may be hospitalised because of flu each winter.”
From the last week of September specially trained healthcare staff will be administering the nasal spray on designated school vaccination days.