Thousands of children across Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire are receiving flu vaccines in a major logistical operation led by Sirona care & health’s school nurses.
With approximately 100,000 children aged four to 12 eligible for the vaccine; teams of vaccinators are working tirelessly to deliver a programme which aims to protect and save many lives this winter.
Sirona, a not-for-profit social enterprise, provides NHS funded adult and children’s community health services across Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire.
Karen Evans, Sirona’s Head of School Nursing (South Gloucestershire) and Specialist Nursing Services, said: “We have multiple teams of vaccinators travelling to schools across Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire five days a week. On average our teams are attending nine to 11 schools a day; vaccinating children from reception all the way through to year seven. This is the first year our teams have vaccinated children in year seven which means there are an additional 10,000 children eligible for the vaccines in our area.
“Access to schools provides an ideal setting to vaccinate large groups of children which would otherwise put a strain on GP surgeries and pharmacies. Children who are educated at home, or miss a session in school, can be vaccinated in our community clinics by appointment. These are available until February 2021. And if a year group is having to self-isolate on the day we are scheduled, we will return later in the programme so as not to miss their opportunity.
“It is often perceived the vaccine is a jab, however, children’s vaccines are given nasally with a very small spray up each nostril; resulting in a less invasive procedure. Parents and carers must consent for the vaccine to be given.
“With Covid-19 still circulating in our community and the risk of catching flu and coronavirus simultaneously this season, getting the flu vaccine is a prevention which will not only provide added protection for those who are vaccinated, but also protect the lives of family and friends and alleviate strain on our healthcare system.”
Vaccinations will be given to children across BNSSG’s designated special schools, by Sirona, to children up until their 18th birthday.
Sue Marquis, Deputy Head Teacher at Brimsham Green School, Yate, said: “We are pleased to welcome Sirona’s vaccination team to our school, offering our year seven pupils the opportunity to be vaccinated as part of their extensive programme.
“Returning to school has been a particularly anxious time for families and pupils, which is why it’s important we support health initiatives which offer additional protection for pupils, colleagues and the wider community.
“The vaccination team have done all they can to provide a safe environment for our pupils to be vaccinated, wearing personal protective equipment which can be quite daunting but is necessary. The service is very accessible and will go a long way providing reassurance to those concerned about their child’s health, and the risk of flu to other family and friends.”