Flu jab for every child

Every child in Greater Glasgow and Clyde aged 2-11 will be offered the flu vaccine from this autumn as part of a new immunisation programme.

With children two to three times more likely to be ill with flu than adults, the programme will help protect children this winter, and reduce the risk of flu being spread to others.

In Greater Glasgow and Clyde, 36,462 pre-school children and 92,022 primary school children are eligible for the vaccination in 2014/2015.

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The announcement marks the next step in the phased introduction of the childhood flu programme, which once fully rolled out will see all children aged 2-17 covered.

This is estimated to prevent an additional 200 deaths a year and up to 1,100 hospitalisations*.

A new campaign has been unveiled to ensure parents know how the vaccine will be offered, and how they can make sure their child is covered.

This autumn, parents of primary school children should look out for and return the consent form sent home in school bags so that their child can be vaccinated at school. Parents of children aged 2-5 who are not at school should make an appointment with their GP practice from October onwards to get their child vaccinated.

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The vaccine will be given as a nasal spray, following last year’s successful pilot where the same vaccine was safely administered to around 130,000 children in Scotland.

Dr Syed Ahmed, Immunisation Co-ordinator for NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, said:

“The vaccination programme being rolled out in Greater Glasgow and Clyde will help protect children and stop the spread of nasty flu viruses, which can lead to serious health problems. It’s a simple, pain free process which involves a tiny amount of the vaccine being sprayed into each nostril, which is then quickly absorbed.

“Parents of primary school children should look out for the information on the flu vaccine when it comes home in school bags. If your child is aged 2-5 and not yet at primary school, remember to make an appointment with your GP from October.”

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Dr Nicola Steedman, the Scottish Government’s Senior Medical Officer launched the campaign by urging parents to make sure their child is protected.

Dr Steedman said, “Flu can be very unpleasant for children, and in some cases it can develop into more serious health complications such as bronchitis, pneumonia and middle ear infection.

“Parents can help safeguard their child against flu by taking up the offer of this free vaccine. It’s safe, quick and painless, and offers protection against the types of virus that are most likely to be circulating this winter.”

Find out more about the flu vaccine for children at immunisationscotland.org.uk/childflu or call the NHS inform helpline on 0800 22 44 88.