Childhood flu immunisations kicked off this week with year 7 pupils

September 11, 2020

The Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust kicked off flu immunisations of year 7 students in Essex this week, after extensions to the annual childhood flu immunisation programme were announced earlier this year.

Photo of child getting flu immunisation

It is likely that flu and COVID-19 will both be circulating at the same time, which means that it is more important than ever this year to help protect against flu. As well as all primary school aged children being offered the flu vaccine, this coming season the Government has extended the programme to year 7 children in secondary schools.

Flu kills thousands of people every year. It is an unpredictable virus and the vaccine is the best protection we have against it. The main purpose of the school-aged annual flu vaccination programme is to reduce transmission in the community.

Children can pass flu on to others in their immediate family and wider community, many of whom may be at higher risk from the complications of flu. The flu vaccination won’t protect against COVID-19 but it is critical to protecting the general health of the population, particularly those at high risk from COVID-19.

All children whose parents agree for them to have the vaccine, which is given by way of a nasal spray, also benefit from the protection it provides to them as individuals. It helps to contribute to a healthy school environment, reduces school absences, and indirectly protects teachers as they are less likely to catch flu from their pupils.

Mrs Mumford, Second Deputy Head of Westcliff High School for Boys said of the immunisation process; ‘Having direct contact with the immunisation team has been great. If we had any questions we were able to get them answered easily.’

Photo of child getting flu immunisation

We also spoke to Lisa and Anton, parents of Noah and Josef at Westcliff High School for Boys, how they feel about the immunisation:

Why are Noah and Josef having the immunisation?

Lisa – It’s going to help protect him and keep him safe. It will help to protect the rest of the family also, particularly his grandparents.

Anton – It is essential for public health and the welfare of all individuals (especially children) that we gain as much immunity to, and protection from, these illnesses which can be prevented.

Why is this important to you?

Lisa – I want Noah to be safe and healthy. It’s also important that he doesn’t need to take a lot of time off school.

Anton – This will help Josef stay healthy, engaged in education, happy and also contribute to the protection of others whose immune system is weaker.

How do Noah and Josef feel about it? Were they nervous or excited?

Lisa – He was looking forward to it. He had the immunisation at junior school, so he wasn’t concerned. The nasal spray means there’s no pain and it’s quick and easy, so he had nothing to be nervous about.

Photo of child with flu certificateAnton – He has had all of his immunisations and is accustomed to the procedure – he had it at primary school too.

Did they ask questions about it?

Lisa – He had lots of questions the first time, but all information was easily accessible online if I didn’t already know the answer. He asked if it would hurt, if he would get ill, if he would need to miss lessons and, once I had answered everything, he was reassured.

Did you have any concerns prior that were answered?

Lisa – I already knew about it and I was pleased that this is being rolled out further. It’s a great service and means that we don’t have to visit the GP. I’m a science teacher and I am a big supporter of immunisations. The school has made the process very easy and it means I haven’t had to take time out of work and Noah hasn’t had to take time off school. The permission process is really simple as it has all been electronic, so there’s been no need for any paper forms. We’ve been given lots of opportunity to give permission and have received lots of reminders. The school has been really accommodating and helpful.

What would you say to others about the immunisation?

Lisa – It’s free, quick and easy. It keeps our children safe and helps to keep everyone else safe.

Anton – Please have your child immunised. It doesn’t hurt, it means they are less likely to get an illness which will, at best, cause them discomfort, stress and a loss of education and it helps protect those who are medically unable to have the immunisation. It can even be fun if the child sees it as an adventure and asks lots of questions of the medics.

You can read more about the child flu vaccine on the NHS website.