Flu season is nearly upon us and the Immunisation Team at Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust has been selected as one of seven teams across England to pilot an innovative new flu immunisation to year 7 and year 8 pupils in state secondary schools across Lancashire without the need for an injection!
Schools in Blackburn with Darwen, East Lancashire, Central Lancashire and West Lancashire will be part of the programme led by Public Health England and NHS England. The new vaccine will be provided in the form of a nasal spray rather than the traditional injection, meaning it is painless to receive and will also be absorbed quickly into the body. This is the first year children in years 7 and 8 will be offered the flu vaccine, which has developed from last year’s programme which saw children aged 4 to 10 vaccinated in pilot areas around England. The aim of the pilot was to help identify the best way to reach a maximum number of children for the immunisation.
Flu can be a very unpleasant illness in children with fever, sore throats, aching muscles and joints and extreme tiredness amongst some of the ailments. Receiving the flu nasal spray vaccine will help protect children from the disease and in addition, the more people who chose to have the vaccine will in turn help to prevent the spread of the virus over the coming months.
Pearl Greenwood, Immunisation Team Leader at Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust said:
“The pilot scheme makes use of innovative advances in the delivery of the flu vaccine by using a nasal spray rather than an injection. As some children have a fear of injections, being able to provide the vaccine without the use of a needle will enable us to protect children from flu and avoid any unnecessary distress to hopefully make the process easier for the child involved.
“Providing the nasal spray vaccine in schools will help us to understand how best to vaccinate a large number of children in a short period of time and help protect them from what can be a very nasty illness. This in turn helps protect not only the children, but also their family, friends and local community by reducing the risk of the virus spreading. Parents and carers of pupils taking part in the pilot will receive consent forms to sign and return to school along with information about the flu vaccine.”
With flu season fast approaching, it is important people start to think about getting their flu jabs. The vaccine is recommended for almost everyone to help reduce the spread of flu during the winter months, however it is particularly important that people within the ‘at risk’ categories take up their flu jabs to help prevent more serious complications should they contract flu. This includes pregnant women, anyone aged over 65 years, and people with long term health conditions such as asthma or heart problems.
There are many myths surrounding flu and the vaccine, some myth busters are listed below:-
Having the flu vaccine gives you flu
The flu vaccine cannot give you flu as it doesn’t contain an active virus needed to do this.
I’ve had the flu jab so I don’t need it again
Each flu vaccine last for one flu season, so even if you had one last year you will need to have another this year.
I’ve already had the flu so I don’t need the vaccine
You should still have your flu vaccine even if you have already had flu. This is because there are several strains of the flu virus and the vaccine can protect you from these.
You cannot die from the flu
For most people who catch the flu, it is an unpleasant experience but unlikely to cause serious risk. However, for some people, particularly those in the ‘at risk’ category, the flu can lead to more serious illness and even death. Around 4,700 people die in the UK every year from flu, so it is important to protect you and your family by having the vaccine.
For further information about the schools pilot please contact Pearl Greenwood, Immunisation Team Leader on 01282 644432 or visit www.gov.uk/government/collections/annual-flu-programme. You can find out more information about flu and the flu vaccine by visiting www.nhs.uk and searching ‘Flu’.