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Parents urged to have children vaccinated against flu

02/10/2020

As schools return after their closures due to the coronavirus pandemic, the NHS is writing to parents and guardians of eligible children urging to protect them against flu.

This year, two- and three-year olds, all primary school children, and children in school Year 7 will be offered the free flu vaccination through the NHS.

For most children the vaccine is an easy spray up the nose, making it quick and painless.

Flu can be a very unpleasant illness in children causing fever, stuffy nose, dry cough, sore throat, aching muscles and joints, and extreme tiredness. This can last several days or more.

Some children can get a very high fever, sometimes without the usual flu symptoms, and may need to go to hospital for treatment. Serious complications of flu include a painful ear infection, acute bronchitis, and lung disease, including pneumonia and bronchiolitis.

Dr Kiren Collison, Clinical Chair at Oxfordshire CCG, said: "Flu spreads easily and by getting your child vaccinated you will be protecting them and those around them. The flu vaccine for children is a quick and painless nasal spray."

Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust's school nurses will be vaccinating around 68,000 children in the county this autumn and winter.
In a co-ordinated programme with primary and secondary schools, the team will start administering nasal vaccines to children in reception to Year 7 from Monday 5 October 2020.

Fiona Singleton, Immunisation Team Leader, said: "It's really important, this year particularly, that children have their immunisation against influenza. They can be super-spreaders of the virus and while they can get very poorly with flu, they can also quickly infect other household members."

Schools have been sending consent forms to parents for the nasal vaccine and Fiona urges them to return the forms as soon as possible.

Professor Meghana Pandit, Chief Medical Officer at Oxford University Hospitals, said: "Getting a flu vaccination is one of the best ways of protecting you and your family ahead of the winter season.

"As children continue to attend school, getting them vaccinated is a quick and easy way to keep them safe."

Some parents are concerned that coronavirus and influenza have similar symptoms. Parents should keep their children at home and request a coronavirus test if they have a continuous cough, high temperature, or loss of or change in sense of taste or smell. Schools have received guidance on signs and symptoms, and this should have been shared with parents.

Children with health conditions, even if well managed, are at higher risk of severe complications if they get flu. It is especially important that these children are vaccinated. Parents can contact their GP surgery to arrange an appointment.

Parents should receive an invitation for their two- and three-year olds to have the flu vaccination at their GP surgery before the winter. If they have not heard from their GP by early November, they should contact the practice they are registered with directly to make an appointment.

Vaccination sessions will be held at schools during the autumn term for primary school-aged children and those in Year 7 at secondary school.

Children who do not attend school will be invited to an alternative local venue. Please wait until an invitation and/or consent form is received and follow the instructions provided.