Children at a Bury secondary school will be the first in the country to be offered a new nasal flu vaccine.
Parents of pupils at Tottington High School will shortly receive an invitation to have their child vaccinated with Fluenz.
Bury is already one of seven pilot areas offering Fluenz to primary school children. This has been hugely successful, with 9,894 children vaccinated so far, and more vaccination sessions are planned.
Because of this success, Bury has been invited to be the only place in the country to extend the pilot to a secondary school. This will test the logistics of giving large numbers of secondary school children the vaccine in a school setting. In addition, pupils will be given the opportunity to self-administer the nasal vaccine, under the supervision of a nurse.
The findings from both the primary and secondary school pilots will inform future national plans for a seasonal flu vaccination programme for all children aged 2-16.
Lesley Jones, Bury’s director of public health, said: “The pilot programme we’ve been running in primary schools has proved very successful.
“Children get a lot of flu, and this vaccine offers the best way to protect them. Children are also big transmitters of the flu virus, so this initiative will reduce the risk of the virus spreading to older members of their families. Flu is a highly contagious and potentially serious illness, and this project will almost certainly save lives.”
The Fluenz vaccine is approved by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation for use in healthy children aged 2-16, instead of a traditional needle vaccination. This vaccine has been used for more than ten years across the USA and has been proven to be safe.
The flu pilot programme is delivered by IntraHealth who have a specialist immunisation team with many years’ experience of delivering health care.
For the primary school pilot, catch-up sessions are now being planned. If your child is in a Bury primary school, has not yet received the vaccine but you would now like them to do so, please contact Lesley Austin at IntraHealth on 0191 518 1564.
Children who are in a clinical ‘at risk’ group and those aged 2-3 are being offered flu vaccination by their GP practice as part of the annual seasonal flu programme. However, those children in the school pilots who also fall within clinical ‘at risk’ groups will be able to choose whether to receive their vaccine in school or at their GP practice.
For more information on the children’s flu vaccination pilot, visit http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vaccinations/pages/child-flu-vaccine.aspx
Press release issued: 9 December 2013.