Nasal spray for children in bid to beat the flu

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A new immunisation programme to protect children against flu is currently being rolled out.

Under the scheme, all children aged two and three will be offered immunisation against flu this year.

Children at all primary schools and selected secondary schools are also being offered immunisation this year, and all children aged two to 17 are being offered the flu vaccine from the end of 2015.

Scotland’s Chief Medical Officer Sir Harry Burns said: “Flu is a serious illness and the extension of the flu vaccination programme will protect those children who receive the vaccine, and will help to protect against the spread of flu.

“The vaccine offers excellent protection against those types of flu virus that are most likely to be circulating each winter, protecting your child from a nasty illness that could end up with them having treatment in hospital.

“The immunisation is safe, quick and painless and has been used in a number of other countries, including the US, for many years.

“In addition, it is important that those people who are in the clinical at risk groups for flu immunisation continue to be vaccinated to protect themselves against the virus.”

The vaccine will be administered using a nasal spray, and will be delivered by a combination of schools and GP practices. It offers better protection to children against flu than the previous injectable vaccine.

Frequently asked questions:

What is flu like for children?

Children get the same flu symptoms as adults. These are worse than a normal cold and include fever, chills, aching muscles, headaches and extreme tiredness.

Symptoms can also include a stuffy nose, dry cough and sore throat. These symptoms can last between two and seven days.

Some children have a very high temperature, sometimes without other obvious symptoms, and need to go to hospital for treatment.

Complications arising from flu can include bronchitis, pneumonia, painful middle ear infection, vomiting and diarrhoea.

For children with certain medical conditions, getting flu can be even more serious as it’s likely to make their medical condition much worse.

Why do we need to protect children from flu?

The flu virus spreads quickly. It infects adults and children very easily, causing an unpleasant illness, which can be serious. Children who get flu often pass it on to family members too.

Thousands of children under 14 are hospitalised in Scotland every year with flu, so it can be a very serious illness for children as they are unlikely to have built up any protection from previous infection.

How does flu spread?

The flu virus spreads through the air when people cough and sneeze without covering their nose and mouth. Other people then breathe in the virus directly or pick it up by touching surfaces where it has landed and touch their eyes, nose and mouth. As young children don’t always cover their noses or mouths when coughing or sneezing, the virus can spread very quickly from them. The flu vaccine reduces the chance of a child getting flu and spreading the virus to other children and adults.