SECONDARY school pupils in Tamworth are to be offered a free flu vaccination for the winter – as part of a national programme targeting more than 700,000 healthy school-aged children across England.
In Tamworth the pilot scheme will see pupils in Years 7 and 8 (aged 11 to 13 years) offered the vaccine as a nasal spray from this autumn.
In addition to protecting healthy children from flu, the pilots aim to reduce the spread of flu and protect younger siblings, grandparents and others who at increased risk of becoming seriously ill from flu.
Tamworth’s Staffordshire County Councillor Carol Dean said: “I'm very pleased to see Staffordshire County Council taking part in this pilot and vaccinating our year 7/8 pupils against the flu virus. Flu can be very dangerous in the 'at risk' groups: our elderly, the very young, people with breathing problems.
“The consequences of a flu outbreak are far reaching: time lost from work, students losing precious time from their studies and the chances of ongoing health problems – sometimes life threatening for our more vulnerable people.
“I would encourage as many people as possible to take advantage of the free flu vaccination, not only this initiative but the general offer open to all people at risk. I hope the Department of Health will decide to roll out of the programme to all our young people in future years.
The Department of Health is looking to eventually extend the national flu programme to all children from the age of two to less than 17 years.
This extension is being phased in. The pilot programme and subsequent evaluation will determine the best approach to implementing the programme for school-aged children. This means the programme can be implemented efficiently and sustainably without putting pressure on other essential services.
The pilots will accompany the existing flu programme, which provides flu vaccination to anyone in an at risk group, pregnant women and those aged 65 or over.
In all the pilot areas, local NHS screening and immunisation teams are now in the process of making arrangements to ensure they can offer the vaccinations in the autumn. Details of how the pilots will be delivered locally in these areas will be available later in the year.