Thousands of primary school pupils in South Leeds will be eligible for the flu vaccine this winter, as the national flu vaccination programme for children is extended to children in school years one and two for the first time.
For the first time, children aged two to six years-old will be eligible to receive the free nasal spray vaccine, as part of a major drive to help people stay well this winter launched last week by Public Health England and NHS England.
This year will mark the largest school-based vaccination programme in England involving children in 17,000 schools.
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. The groups being offered the adult flu vaccine are:
- Pregnant women
- Those aged 65 or over
- Those aged under 65 with long-term conditions
- Carers (those receiving a carer’s allowance, or who are the main carer for an elderly or disabled person whose welfare may be at risk if you fall ill)
Andy Harris, Clinical Chief Officer, NHS Leeds South and East Clinical Commissioning Group and GP at Shaftesbury Medical Centre, Leeds, said:
“Let’s be crystal clear – flu kills. For many people it is an unpleasant illness but for the most vulnerable in society – small children, the elderly, those with long-term health problems and for pregnant women – it is extremely dangerous and can be lethal.
“Getting the vaccine is the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones from catching flu and I would urge everyone in South Leeds who is offered the vaccine free on the NHS to get vaccinated.”
A pilot programme last year showed vaccinating children had dual benefit; as well as protecting them from flu, it also protects others, such as parents, grandparents and siblings, as children are ‘super spreaders’ and are much more likely to infect others.
Parents are encouraged to complete consent forms in order to allow immunisation teams to administer the nasal spray flu vaccine to their children. For those children in areas where the vaccination is not offered through schools, they will be offered the vaccination at their local GP or pharmacy.