The NHS is now offering free flu vaccination for children under the age of nine after this year’s flu epidemic.
As one of the worst flu outbreaks in years, NHS Health officials have made the decision for any child under the age of nine years old to receive a free flu vaccination.
New government guidance from NHS England and Public Health England and the Department of Health and Social Care says: ‘The last season’s higher level of flu activity is an important reminder that flu can have a significant impact and is highly unpredictable. This year saw record flu vaccination levels, with nearly one and a half million more people getting the vaccination than last year. We should strive to further improve vaccine uptake rates in all eligible cohorts next year.’
The vaccination will protect children from four strains of influenza. It is said to have very few side effects, however the NHS have said that children may experience a runny nose a few days after the vaccination.
‘The flu vaccine for children has a good safety record. In the UK, millions of children have been vaccinated safely and successfully’, the document reads.
The children’s vaccine is administered as a nasal spray as opposed to a jab. This was decided to make the experience less stressful for children who may be afraid of needles.
The nasal spray flu vaccine will be available on the NHS for eligible children including:
- children aged two and three on August 31 2017 – that is, children born between September 1 2013 and August 31 2015
- children in reception class and school years 1, 2, 3 and 4 in some parts of the country, all primary school-aged children will be offered the vaccine (following a pilot in some areas)
- children aged two to 17 with long-term health conditions
The NHS claim that over the next few years the programme will gradually be extended to include older children.
Children aged two to four years will be given the vaccination at their general practice; children in reception class and school years 1,2,3 and 4 will be offered their vaccination in school; and children who are home educated will also be offered the vaccine provided they are in the correct age bracket.
It is predicted that around 600,000 children will receive the vaccination along with 2 million children who received it last September.
The NHS has said that parents will be contacted by their GP or by their child’s school in regards to vaccination before Winter 2018.