Childhood flu immunisation is extended

Child receiving flu vaccine by nasal spray.
Child receiving flu vaccine by nasal spray.

The Borders’ childhood flu immunisation programme is to be extended to all children from 2 years of age up to and including children in P7.

The vaccine will be offered to children aged 2 to 5 who are not attending school at their GP practice from October. Parents should look out for information from their GP on how to make an appointment.

Primary school aged children will be offered the vaccine at school. A consent form will be sent home in the child’s school bag. The vaccine is being offered as a quick, painless and needle-free nasal spray, with only a tiny amount sprayed into each nostril. This type of vaccine was safely given to thousands of children across the UK last year, during the pilot scheme. Children who cannot have the nasal spray may be offered an injectable version.

Dr Tim Patterson, Flu Immunisation Coordinator at NHS Borders, said: “Flu can be very unpleasant for children, and in some cases can develop into more serious health complications such as bronchitis, pneumonia and middle ear infection. If they get the vaccine they will be protected and at a reduced risk of infecting others.”

He added: “The vaccine is quick and painless and was safely given to children last year. Side effects such as headaches and runny noses are possible, but usually mild.

“Even the healthiest of children can become seriously ill as a result of flu, so I’d urge parents to make sure their child is vaccinated.”

Find out more about the flu vaccine for children at www.immunisationscotland.org.uk/childflu or call the NHS inform helpline on 0800 22 44 88.