Leicestershire healthy schools

Over 58,000 local children vaccinated against flu

Over 58,000 local children vaccinated against flu

The childhood flu immunisations team from Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust (LPT) have vaccinated 58,055 children aged 5-12 with a nasal flu spray, as part of the second year of a national NHS England pilot programme. The team visited 435 schools and units across Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland over a ten-week period between October to December 2014.

The vaccination was offered to the parents/guardians of 97,555 healthy school children, and had an uptake of 59.1% (compared to 52.1% last year) – forming part of the 700,000 children across England to be offered a free flu vaccination for the winter through 12 pilot areas. The offer included 334 home schooled children who were invited to attend community clinic sessions in the new year period. In addition, the LPT team vaccinated 358 children (of 455 who were offered the vaccine) and 520 teachers/carers as part of the Special School and Nurseries Program.

Flu is a highly contagious illness that spreads rapidly through the coughs and sneezes of people who are carrying the virus. Immunising all school children in years 1 to 6 in primary and years 7 and 8 in secondary should help stop the spread of the virus through the school, and to friends and family members who may be more vulnerable to its effects.

Suzanne Leatherland, Project Lead for Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust, said: “The dedication and commitment of the 120 –strong team has been outstanding throughout the programme and credit and thanks should be shared with each member of staff. We worked really hard this year to ensure that all parents/guardians felt well informed about the nasal flu vaccine with clear information sent in advance to seek their consent. We consulted with local faith leaders to help communicate the extra information in leaflets around the use of gelatine in the vaccine. We also produced two animated films to prepare children and young people for the vaccine – which even featured on the NHS Choices website. Many schools used these in their school assemblies. We were delighted that the team won a national award for its staff rota system during the programme and that our communications campaign was highly commended by the Department of Health.”

The Fluenz immunisation is a simple, painless nasal spray that protects children against many strains of the flu virus. The spray has been used safely and effectively in the USA for over 10 years, and last year it was introduced in the UK as a way of protecting healthy 2 and 3 year olds against the virus.

Dr Tim Davies, Consultant lead for screening and immunisation for NHS England (Central Midlands), said: “Flu can kill. Immunisation is one of the most important weapons for protecting the public from serious diseases. We are delighted with the success of this second pilot year and will be using the learning and best practice from it to develop the next round of nasal flu immunisations.”

You can learn more about the flu vaccine and stopping flu by visiting LPT’s health website from school nurses: www.healthforkids.co.uk



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