Child Flu Vaccine Pilots Announced for Second Year

Local schoolchildren in Lincolnshire will form part of the 700,000 healthy school children across England to be offered a free flu vaccination for the winter, as the successful child flu vaccine pilot programme launched in 2013 enters its second year.

This year, as one of 12 pilot areas to run the programme nationally, nurses from Lincolnshire Community Health Services NHS Trust will visit every secondary school in Lincolnshire to administer the nasal flu vaccine to pupils in years 7 and 8.

The pilots are an important addition to the national programme and are being carefully planned for the second year running. They are helping clinicians to understand the best way to implement the programme nationally, ensuring a successful and sustainable programme can be set up in the future, vaccinating children and young people to protect them and the wider population.

The vaccine, called Fluenz Tetra, is safe, simple, and easy and was piloted successfully in neighbouring Leicestershire last year. Because the vaccine is a nasal spray, it is quick, painless and doesn’t involve needles. The vaccine is expected to be introduced nationally in a few years.

The Department of Health (DH), based on a recommendation received from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) in July 2012, decided to extend the national flu programme to all children from the age of 2 to less than 17 years. This is being phased in, and the pilots are determining the best approach to implementing the programme for school-aged children, so that the programme can be implemented efficiently and sustainably, without putting pressure on other essential services.

Dr Tim Davies, Public Health Consultant for NHS England in Leicestershire and Lincolnshire, said:

“I’m really pleased that Leicestershire and Lincolnshire Area Team has again been successful in being selected as a pilot area to offer the Fluenz immunisation spray this coming winter. All secondary school pupils in school years 7 and 8 across Lincolnshire will be offered the nasal spray vaccine. It is the best way to help protect all of these children against the flu.  We’re currently working closely with local NHS trusts and schools to offer Lincolnshire pupils the immunisation this autumn.

“Fluenz is safe, simple and painless, and by having the nasal spray, children are less likely to pass the virus on to friends and family. This is important as flu can be a really serious illness for some.  The immunisation is expected to be introduced nationally for all children over the next few years, but pupils in Lincolnshire are amongst the first to get it.

“I would encourage all parents of pupils covered by the pilot to discuss the offer of the free immunisation spray with their children.  We strongly recommend they take up the offer to ensure they will be flu free as winter approaches.”

NHS England and Lincolnshire Community Health Services NHS Trust