1st December 2020

Somerset school children set to help fight flu

Somerset County Council is urging all parents and carers of school aged children to return their flu consent form and help children become ‘flu fighters’ this winter.

All schools should have issued information about the flu vaccination to parents and carers of eligible children and young people asking them to fill in an online form to give their consent.

If parents/carers haven’t already completed the form, Somerset County Council’s public health teams urge them to complete it – and give their consent.

With COVID-19 also circulating in communities this winter, catching flu and Coronavirus together is even more likely to lead to severe illness, hospitalisation and sadly death.

Therefore, it is more important than ever to reduce the chance of becoming ill with flu this winter, reduce the chance of spreading it to others – and help protect the NHS.

For most people flu is horrible, but not life threatening. However, for those in certain ‘at risk’ groups, flu can be deadly. Many of us will carry the flu virus without showing symptoms and could unknowingly pass it on to the most vulnerable.

The nasal spray flu vaccine is free on the NHS and has already started to be rolled out through the schools vaccination programme this year. It is available to:

  • All primary school children (reception to year 6)
  • All year 7 in secondary school
  • Children aged 2 to 17 years with long-term health conditions

The vaccine is being administered to school children by Somerset NHS Foundation Trust school-aged immunisation nursing team (SAINT), a dedicated team of qualified nurses and support staff. The team have started visiting schools across the County giving children the flu vaccination via a nasal spray.

School visits will look a little different this year, nurses will be wearing protective masks and clothing and adhering to strict hygiene rules. The team have produced a video to show what measures have been put in place: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cdqeuH97_aU&feature=youtu.be

Suzy Mason, Somerset NHS Foundation Trust’s school aged nursing immunisation team leader, said: “Flu is a serious condition that kills on average 11,000 people in England each year and hospitalises many more.

“And it’s now easier than ever to consent for your child to receive their flu vaccination with our new online system.

“Our team is working with every school to ensure we are able to provide safe and effective vaccination sessions for children in Somerset.

“If you are a parent and have missed the deadline for consent and the school session has passed, we are offering sessions in the community.”

Councillor Clare Paul, Somerset County Council member responsible for health and wellbeing, said: “Children are known to be flu ‘super-spreaders’. By vaccinating children and young people, we know we can reduce the amount of flu going around.

“This year we have Coronavirus. Catching the two viruses together could be very serious.  So, it is more important than ever to get your child vaccinated, particularly if they have regular contact with older relatives or others with an underlying health condition.”

For more information or to find out when the team is visiting your school visit the Healthy Somerset website at: https://www.healthysomerset.co.uk/flu/more-information-on-vaccination-in-somerset-schools/ .The site also has some fun resources which you can use to explain to your child why it is important to get the flu vaccination.

Information about planned school sessions and contact information for the SAINT team can be found at: https://www.somersetft.nhs.uk/saints-school-age-immunisation-team/somerset-school-aged-immunisation-nursing-team-saint/flu-vaccination-programme/