Tottington High pupils will be first in country to get new nasal flu vaccine

Bury Times: PROTECTION: Imogen Sowerby, aged four, receives the new nasal flu vaccine at Christ Church Primary School, Ainsworth PROTECTION: Imogen Sowerby, aged four, receives the new nasal flu vaccine at Christ Church Primary School, Ainsworth

Pupils at a Bury high school will be the first in the country to receive a new nasal vaccine after a successful pilot scheme was carried out in the borough’s primary schools.

The parents of students at Tottington High are to receive an invitation for their children to be vaccinated with a spray —– instead of a needle.

Almost 10,000 primary schoolchildren in Bury have already received the vaccine, after the borough was one of seven local authorities to be selected for a pilot of the scheme.

The sessions have been judged a success, with 9,894 children vaccinated so far and with further vaccinations planned.

Children are being targeted by the programme because they are the most likely age group to pass on germs to vulnerable people such as pregnant mothers, young relatives or grandparents.

Bury will now be the only place in the country where this trial will be extended to older pupils, which will test the logistics of the scheme in a school setting.

Secondary school students will also be given the opportunity to self-administer the vaccine, under the supervision of a nurse.

The vaccine, which is called Fluenz, has been used in the USA for more than 10 years and has been declared safe for use.

A similar vaccination 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 said that both Islamic and Jewish scholars had agreed that pork gelatine was permissible within a vaccine.

The findings of both the primary and secondary school pilots will be used to devise a national seasonal flu vaccination scheme for children from the age of two to 16.

Lesley Jones, Bury’s director of public health, said: “The pilot programme we’ve been running in primary schools has proved very successful.

“Children get a lot of flu, and this vaccine offers the best way to protect them.

“Children are also big transmitters of the flu virus, so this initiative will reduce the risk of the virus spreading to older members of their families.

“Flu is a highly contagious and potentially serious illness, and this project will almost certainly save lives.”

Children in the school pilots who also fall within clinical ‘at risk’ groups will be able to choose whether to receive their vaccine in school or at their doctors.

For more information about the vaccine visit www.nhs.uk/conditions/vaccinations/pages/child-flu-vaccine.aspx

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