Every child in Scotland aged between two and 11 is being offered the flu vaccine this autumn as part of a new immunisation programme.
With children two to three times more likely to be ill with flu than adults, approximately 150,000 pre-school children paged between two and five years old and approximately 400,000 primary school children are being offered the flu vaccination in 2014/15 to help protect them and reduce the risk of flu being spread to others.
The vaccination campaign marks the next step in the phased introduction of the childhood flu programme, which once fully rolled out, will see all children aged between two and 17 vaccinated. This is estimated to prevent an additional 200 deaths a year and up to 1,100 hospitalisations.
Parents of Western Isles primary school children should look out for and return the consent form sent home in school bags so that their child can be vaccinated at school. Parents of pre-school children aged between two and five should make an appointment with their GP practice from October onwards to get their child vaccinated.
The vaccine will be given as a nasal spray, following last year’s successful pilot where the same vaccine was safely administered to around 130,000 children in Scotland.
Dr Nicola Steedman, the Scottish Government’s Senior Medical Officer, said: “Flu can be very unpleasant for children, and in some cases it can develop into more serious health complications such as bronchitis, pneumonia and middle ear infection.
“Parents can make sure their child is safeguarded against flu by taking up the offer of this free vaccine. It’s safe, quick and painless, and offers protection against the types of virus that are most likely to be circulating this winter.
“I’d encourage parents of primary school children to look out for the information on the flu vaccine when it comes home in school bags and to return the consent form as soon as possible. Parents of pre-school children aged between two and five should make an appointment with their GP from October.”
Find out more about the flu vaccine for children at immunisationscotland.org.uk/childflu or call the NHS inform helpline on 0800 22 44 88.