More than 160,000 children and young people are being offered a free and safe flu vaccination in school from Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust’s (LPT) School Aged Immunisation Service (SAIS), to help keep the virus at bay throughout the winter season and to protect loved ones during celebrations and festivities.
All school aged children in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland, from those in reception at primary schools right up to year 11s in secondary schools, are eligible to receive the flu vaccination, with vaccination sessions taking place in schools up until December 2023.
This year there are two vaccines on offer to protect children and young people against the latest strain of the virus:
- The flu vaccine nasal spray, which is given as a quick and painless spray up each nostril, and which offers the best protection against flu. The nasal flu vaccine contains traces of porcine (pork) gelatine.
- The injectable flu vaccine, which is available if the nasal flu vaccine isn’t suitable. This vaccine does not contain porcine (pork) gelatine.
Both vaccines are given by friendly and experienced members of the School Aged Immunisations Team. Parents and carers are encouraged to fill out consent forms promptly when they are sent out from their child’s school to register whether they want their child to have the flu vaccine or whether they don’t want to consent.
Marie Butterworth, clinical lead for the school aged immunisation service at Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust, said: “Flu is highly contagious and is a really nasty illness that can cause a high temperature, body aches, sore throats, a cough, runny nose and can make people feel very tired or exhausted. Children and young people who get it will usually need to take time off school. In some cases, flu can lead to more serious problems like ear infections and bronchitis.
“The flu vaccine is a great way to keep children protected against the virus. We offer a different vaccine each year to protect against the latest strains of flu. As well as helping to stop children getting ill from flu, the vaccine will also help to stop them from passing it on to family, loved ones or other vulnerable people. This is especially important as we head towards all the upcoming celebrations this winter including Diwali and Christmas.
“Flu spreads through coughs, sneezes and ingestion after touching a contaminated surface, so good hand hygiene, with frequent washing, is also very important throughout the winter period.”
Many children and young people will not get any side effects from having the vaccine, though where they occur they usually resolve within 3-5 days and include a runny or stuffy nose, reduced appetite, weakness and headache.
Some children with certain health conditions may also be offered a flu vaccination appointment at their GP surgery.
Marie added: “We really encourage parents and carers to take time to go through the information with their child together as a family, so they understand what’s on offer and can make an informed choice together. Even if parents don’t want their child to be vaccinated, we’d ask that they still complete the consent form so we can be sure of their consent decision.
“If your child was unable to have their flu vaccine when the service visited your child’s school, they still may be able to get it through a catch up clinic or a local pharmacy. Please contact the service for more information.”
Parents, carers and children who want to find out more can watch LPT’s Flu Heroes short and fun animation, which explains what flu is and how the nasal flu vaccine works.
Anyone needing help to fill out their consent form or who with further questions about the vaccines or process can contact the School Aged Immunisation Service on 0300 3000 007 or send an email to email@example.com .