Flu vaccines to be offered to all secondary school children in England from September
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Flu vaccines will be offered to all secondary school pupils in England from September. The government said that it is expanding the scheme to include nearly three million schoolchildren aged 11 to 16 in England who will be given a nasal spray dose.
The move is an extension to the rollout first announced this year, which includes eligible groups of over-65s, people in clinical risk groups and pregnant women. Ministers say expanding it to pupils from Year 7 to 11 could give another layer of protection to more vulnerable people.
Health minister, Maria Caulfield, said: “Expanding the offer of flu vaccination to all secondary school pupils this winter will provide millions of young people with extra protection. “Importantly, this will also reduce the risk of transmission to more vulnerable groups, including the elderly, reducing hospitalisations and freeing up bed capacity across the NHS.
“Last winter we saw the devastating impact this illness can have, so it is important that all pupils take up the offer of the flu vaccine to protect themselves and their loved ones from falling unwell.”
The decision to expand the programme is in line with a long-standing recommendation from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), which highlights the benefits of directly protecting school-aged children from flu, and the indirect benefits to the wider population.
NHS school aged immunisation services will be undertaking the vaccinations from September during the autumn term. All primary school children and infants aged 2 and 3 will also be offered the flu vaccine, as previously announced in May.
Eligible groups are urged to take up the offer from September before the flu season begins, to give themselves the best possible protection in winter.
NHS Director of Vaccinations and Screening, Steve Russell, said: “Last winter we saw how quickly flu can spread within communities, so I’m pleased to see the flu vaccination offer being extended to secondary school children in the autumn term.
“The vaccine offers vital protection against flu which can cause nasty symptoms, and I would urge all young people and parents to make sure they join millions of others who get vaccinated each year to take up the offer when they can – it’s quick, easy and offered in schools, so there’s really no reason to delay when you receive the offer.”
Dr Mary Ramsay, Head of Immunisation, UKHSA, said: “Getting the flu vaccine offers the best protection against the virus. It is important everyone eligible takes up the offer, including secondary school pupils as they can fall very sick. Last year we saw some teenagers hospitalised with the flu.
“Expanding the vaccination to secondary school pupils will help to reduce flu from being spread, protecting their friends and family and easing the burden on the NHS.”
Schools Minister, Nick Gibb, said: “Following the disruption caused by the pandemic, it’s important that children are able to attend school as much as possible. We know that school attendance levels drop over the winter months due to illness, which is why today’s announcement will not only protect children’s health but also their education.”