Nothing to fear – and it saves lives – a child being immunised.
By Lyall Allen, health correspondent
The school summer holidays are all but over and the children are all settling back into school life.
Over the next week children in primary schools across West Dunbartonshire and Helensburgh will be sent home with Flu immunisation consent packs for parents/carers to complete and return to school ahead of this year’s immunisation programme
Our team of school immunisation staff are already hard at work gearing up for the primary school flu immunisation programme.
The team will visit nine primary schools each day – 343 in total – from 7th October as they bid to immunise 90,000 primary school pupils against flu.
Parents/carers are being asked to complete the forms and return them to the school within seven days.
The flu vaccine is given as a painless nasal spray. Children who can’t have the nasal spray for medical or religious reasons can receive the vaccine as an injection in the upper arm.
Children have the highest flu attack rates and are more likely to pass on the virus to family, friends and the wider community.
However, evidence from Public Health England has shown that where primary school age children were given the vaccine there is a significant reduction in the number of children and adults attending GPs and hospitals with flu like illness.
Linda de Caestecker, NHSGGC’s director of Public Health, said: “It may seem very early to be thinking about flu just after the summer holidays, however we want to immunise as many children – one of the most vulnerable groups – as possible.
“Vaccinating 90,000 primary children over a nine week period is a massive operation for our teams. However, it is hugely important as the vaccine is the best protection we have against an unpredictable virus which causes severe illness and deaths each year.
“If a primary pupil was immunised against flu last year it is important they get the vaccine again this year, as the virus changes every year. As a result, a different vaccine has to be made every year, meaning annual vaccination is necessary for children.
“I’d urge parents and carers to return the completed consent form as soon as possible. Flu needs to be taken seriously – it’s not the same as the common cold and the virus can have an immediate and severe effect.”