A programme to protect more than 20,000 Sunderland primary school children from flu begins in Red House this week.
Youngsters at 80 schools in Sunderland will receive the vaccine in the form of a nasal spray between now and December to protect them from the infection.
This is part of a wider North East pilot which will see around 53,000 children in primary schools across Gateshead, South Tyneside and Sunderland receive the nasal vaccine.
Public Health England is running 13 childhood flu vaccine pilots across the country this year to determine the best approach to vaccinating school age primary children as the national programme gradually expands to include all 2 – 16-year-olds. This follows the success of seven pilots last year, including one in Gateshead.
Early evaluation suggests the pilots had a positive impact as areas with pilots saw fewer flu related GP consultations, hospitalisations and emergency A and E attendances.
Dr Tricia Cresswell, consultant in health protection for Public Health England, said: “Flu is not just a cold – it can be a really serious illness for some people. And it doesn’t just affect older people – healthy children are also susceptible to flu and its associated complications such as pneumonia.
“Flu is highly contagious and children can also pass on the virus to those at risk of becoming more seriously ill from flu, such as pregnant women, over 65s and those with a long term health condition. So we’re delighted that so many Sunderland schools have signed up to take part in the pilot and that parents and guardians have seen the value of their children receiving this effective protection from flu.”
The pilot scheme has been offered to 197 primary schools in Gateshead, South Tyneside and Sunderland as well as 11 special schools in the area.#####