Published on: 12 September 2023
As children settle back into the classroom, parents and carers are being urged to be wise and make sure their children are immunised against flu this winter.
All primary school pupils, and secondary school pupils up to year 11, are eligible for a free flu vaccination this year.
NHS teams are also reminding parents and carers of 2–3-year-olds to get their child vaccinated against flu ahead of winter, a group where vaccine uptake has been low in previous years.
Consent forms will be sent by schools, either using a link to an electronic form or in paper format.
Dr Janet Walker, medical director, North East and North Cumbria ICB and primary care advisor to the North East and North Cumbria COVID-19 Vaccination Programme, said:
"Flu cannot be underestimated!
"It can be extremely serious, even for healthy children, and can lead to other serious problems such as bronchitis and pneumonia - not only that but children can also spread it to others.
"The nasal spray is the most effective way to protect children from becoming severely unwell with flu and provides protection to more vulnerable family members, such as older relatives and young babies.
"It can help prevent them needing to take time off school and away from other activities too.
"We're asking all parents and carers of primary and secondary school aged children to complete and return the consent form, to ensure their child receives the best possible protection from flu this winter."
Vaccinations for school age children will take place in school or in a community clinic setting.
Most children aged two and three years will be offered an appointment for a flu vaccine at their local GP surgery.
Those with long term health conditions can also attend their GP surgery for the flu vaccine or wait for their school immunisation team to contact them.
The vaccine, which takes about two weeks to work fully, is given as a painless nasal spray. It's quick, safe, and effective and helps prevent children passing the virus on to vulnerable family and friends.
If a nasal spray is not suitable for some children, a flu vaccine injection may be offered as an alternative.
Dr Janet Walker, added:
"We're encouraging all parents, of children aged 2-3, to come forward as soon as they are invited to get their little ones vaccinated.
"Uptake of the vaccine tends to be lower for children in this age group - last year only 45 percent of parents took up the offer.
"The flu vaccine is safe, effective and is just a simple squirt of a nasal spray up each nostril – it is the best way to help protect your child from winter illnesses."