More than 52,000 school children across Leeds will be offered a free flu vaccination this winter in a bid to stamp out flu.
The vaccinations, in the form of a nasal spray, will be given to children by nurses from Leeds Community Health Care Immunisation team. The nasal spray will be offered to children in reception class, year 1, 2, 3 and 4.
Emma Williams, Immunisation Nurse at Leeds Community Healthcare NHS Trust, is part of the team delivering the vaccines across 255 schools. She said: “Flu can be a very unpleasant illness for children and for some children if they catch it, it can result in a serious illness. The vaccination will provide protection to children and also help reduce the chance of flu spreading to others including vulnerable people, older people and babies. I would urge people to take up the offer of protecting their child in this way.”
Children who get flu have the same symptoms as adults including fever, chills, aching muscles, headache, stuffy nose, dry cough and sore throat. Some children develop a very high fever or complications of flu such bronchitis or pneumonia and may need hospital treatment. Only children whose parents sign a consent form distributed by schools will be given the nasal spray.
Sisters Tara Connor aged 9, Alyssa Connor aged 7 and Orlagh Connor aged 4 all received their vaccine at Our Lady's Catholic Primary School. Tara Connor said: “It’s important to have it so I don’t get poorly. It’s not scary it just tickles.”
The initiative is part of the National Healthy Child Flu Vaccination Programme.
Mrs Stephanie Flaherty, Head Teacher at Our Lady's Catholic Primary School, said: “If children have the nasal spray it means they have less of a chance of being poorly over winter. Flu can spread quickly in the classroom. This vaccine not only protects children, but it helps ensure they stay in school and do not miss out on their education.”
Not all children are recommended to receive the nasal spray vaccine, including those with a severe egg allergy, severe asthma or an allergy to any of the vaccine ingredients. These children may be able to receive the injectable flu vaccine instead. In these cases, parents are recommended to consult with their GP.
Any parents or guardians wanting further information about the flu immunisation programme for children across Leeds can contact Leeds Community Healthcare NHS Trust Immunisation team on 0113 8555224.
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