What is the flu vaccine?
The flu vaccine is a live immunisation given via a nasal spray that can protect children against four different strains of flu. Flu symptoms include fever, chills, aching muscles, headache, stuffy nose, dry cough and a sore throat lasting up to a week. Receiving the vaccine lowers the risk of catching flu, which can be easily caught in a school environment.
Who can have the vaccine?
From September 2020, the nasal flu vaccine will be offered to all children in primary school (Reception-Year 6), all children in special schools and children in Year 7 at secondary school. The new Year 7 cohort (2020-2021) have always been offered the flu vaccine as their year group has been added on each flu season.
The vaccine contains live, but weakened flu viruses that do not cause flu in children. It will help your child build up immunity to flu in a similar way as natural infection, but without the symptoms.
There are a few children who should avoid the nasal spray flu vaccine. The vaccine is not recommended for children who have:
Children unable to have the nasal spray vaccine for any of these health reasons may be able to have the injectable flu vaccine instead. Please note that the live flu vaccine contains gelatin. If you do not want the vaccine due to the ingredients, there is no alternative.
When is the vaccine given?
Our flu program begins in October and runs up until the children break up from school in December. We endeavour to allocate dates to schools before the summer holidays. Schools should make this information known to parents, however the dates for each school can be found on the Immunisation Dates page. The date could be at any point between October and December as we have a very large number of schools to fit in. We try to rotate the dates each year so schools get an opportunity for an earlier date. Consent forms are now electronic. The information will be sent out to schools in September for them to distribute to parents.
What happens if my child is absent?
Any children that miss their flu vaccination in school either due to absence or refusal can be caught up in clinic. We aim to run catch-up clinics in each area in the school holidays. As long as there is a consent form for your child, with a contact number, we will contact you to offer a catch-up clinic appointment. If you miss the deadline for the consent forms, you can contact the team and book in for an appointment.
Below are some links to videos that can be used to explain the flu vaccine to children and parents:
For more information visit the NHS website