Thousands of primary and secondary school children are being offered the free flu vaccine this winter.
Our Immunisation Team is visiting schools across Bristol North Somerset and South Gloucestershire (BNSSG) over the next few months to deliver the vaccine to pupils from reception to year nine.
The UK Health Security Agency is urging everyone eligible for a free flu vaccine to take up the offer due to an expected increase in respiratory viruses this winter, including flu and Covid.
Flu can be a very unpleasant illness and can lead to serious problems such as bronchitis and pneumonia.
The most detected flu virus worldwide is currently H3N2. This strain was in circulation in the UK last year but due to Covid restrictions, when people mixed a lot less, there are lower levels of immunity in the population.
Primary schools have emailed consent forms to parents and carers who are encouraged to fill them in as soon as possible to ensure their children are protected against the virus this winter. Secondary schools will be sending their consent forms out after the half term holiday.
Karen Evans, Sirona’s Head of School Aged Immunisations and Specialist Services, said: “Our teams will be carrying out vaccinations in schools five days a week over the next few months. After we have visited all primary schools, we will be vaccinating children in years seven to nine.
“Having the vaccine will not prevent children from catching flu but will minimise the risk and reduce the severity of illness caused by the virus and provide added protection to their families and friends.
“With Covid-19 still circulating in our communities, it is particularly important to get vaccinated this year, to alleviate the strain on our healthcare system.”
The flu vaccine is given nasally, with a small spray up each nostril. Vaccinations will be given to children across BNSSG’s designated special schools, up until their 18th birthday.
Children who are educated at home, or anyone who misses a session at school can be vaccinated in our community clinics from October onwards by booking an appointment.
Sirona also offers the injectable flu vaccine to children who are clinically severely immunocompromised and unable to have the nasal spray, or to children who cannot have the spray due to its porcine gelatine content.
To book an appointment for a community clinic or the injectable flu vaccine, contact the office via email on firstname.lastname@example.org
As well as taking up the flu vaccines, people are being encouraged to help stop the spread of respiratory viruses this winter by practising good hand hygiene, wearing masks in crowded or enclosed public spaces and covering your nose and mouth when you cough and sneeze.