Thousands of pupils and their families will be in good health this winter thanks to a pioneering flu vaccination programme in Bury.
Public health chiefs are delighted with the success of the scheme, in which Bury was one of just seven areas in the land to pilot a nasal vaccine for healthy primary school children.
The project started so well that Bury was chosen as the only place in the country to trial the vaccine at a secondary school – in this case, Tottington High.
The pilot has now ended, and 10,528 vaccinations were given in primary schools – a take-up rate of 67%.
Children who were eligible for the vaccination received a nasal spray vaccine called Fluenz*, approved by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, instead of a traditional needle vaccination. It was delivered in schools by IntraHealth, who have a specialist immunisation team with many years experience of delivering healthcare.
Diane Halton, public health service manager, said: “We had hoped for a take-up in primary schools of 60%, so this is a great result. We’re also pleased with the 56% uptake at Tottington High, which was amazing given it was organised and delivered in just two weeks.”
Bury will continue with the primary school programme next year as an “early implementer” and a phased vaccination programme into secondary schools is being planned for 2014/15.
The pilot scheme was to test the practicalities of giving the vaccine to a large number of children in a school setting. The results from the Bury pilot will be used across the country.
Councillor Rishi Shori, Bury’s cabinet member for adult care, health and housing, said: “Flu is highly contagious and potentially serious. Children are major transmitters of the flu virus, so this initiative has certainly reduced the risk of the virus spreading to older members of their families. Lives have been saved by the programme.”
Press release issued: 21 January 2014.