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Bury schools among first in country to give nasal spray flu vaccines
YOUNGSTERS in Bury are among the first to receive a new nasal flu vaccine as part of a national pilot scheme.
The initiative is aimed at primary schoolchildren aged four to 11, and is being given using a nasal spray instead of a needle.
Bury is one of seven local authorities chosen to test the scheme, and council officials say the pioneering initiative could prevent 30 deaths a year.
The vaccine is being offered to 18,500 children across the borough from now until January next year.
The spray is only being issued to children who have received parental consent, with letters and information leaflets being sent out to parents of eligible children.
It aims to reduce the spread of the virus to other people, such as family and friends, as well as protecting children themselves against the virus.
Children are the target of the vaccine as they are the most likely age group to pass on germs to vulnerable people such as young relatives, pregnant mothers, or grandparents.
Pupils at Christ Church Primary School in Ainsworth were among the first to be given the vaccine on Tuesday (October 8), with a number of year two pupils giving it their seal of approval.
Lauren Hainsworth, aged seven, said: “I was scared before it because I thought it was going to hurt, but it was alright.”
Rachel Cowie, aged seven, said: “It felt a bit tickly and a bit weird having it up my nose, I was a bit nervous before but it was OK.”
Six-year-old Oscar McMullen added: “It was a bit tickly, I would have it done again though if I needed to.”
Sam Messenger, a nurse who has now delivered the vaccine at several Bury schools, said the response she had received was positive.
She said: “The children have been really good. I rang a school afterwards to see how they were, and a couple had sniffled noses and a temperature but nothing other than that.”
Christ Church headteacher Dave Gerrard said that around 70% of parents had consented to their children having the vaccine.
A similar programme in Scotland has been delayed after concerns were raised by Muslim parents that the vaccine contained gelatine, which is derived from pork.
However, Bury Council says Islamic and Jewish scholars have agreed that pork gelatine was permissible within a vaccine.
Denise Johnson, the project lead for IntraHealth, who are delivering the vaccination, said: “The majority of people have been supportive. We have had a lot of questions and concerns because it is a new vaccine, but we have explained what it is all about.
“Some have not consented on religious grounds, but we hope it will go nationwide next year.”
The pilot scheme aims to test the logistics of delivering the vaccine on a large scale, and it could be rolled out to children aged two to 16 next year, as part of the national seasonal flu programme.
The vaccine, which is called Fluenz, has been used in the USA for more than 10 years and has been declared safe for use.
Cllr Rishi Shori, Bury Council’s cabinet member for health, added: “We all want to keep our children safe and this is a quick and pain-free way of protecting our families and those we love from potentially serious illness.
“Children get a lot of flu and they are also big transmitters of the flu virus. We estimate that this could prevent 30 deaths a year.”
Children who are in a clinical ‘at risk’ group and those who are aged two or three will also be offered the vaccination by their GP as part of the seasonal flu programme.
For more information: visit www.nhs.uk/conditions/vaccinations/pages/child-flu-vaccine.aspx s
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