A new childhood flu programme protecting children will be rolled out this year starting with all two and three year olds being offered the nasal spray Fluenz.
It will be offered to around 120,000 two and three year olds and around 100,000 primary school aged children in Scotland. When fully implemented, around one million children across Scotland will have the chance to be immunised.
Dr McLeod commented:
“The ‘flu vaccine is available to people over the age of 65, those under 65 with a condition that puts them at greater risk, such as asthma, diabetes, heart or liver problems, pregnant women, unpaid carers and health & social care workers.
“The vaccine is also being made available to children since, ‘flu can be particularly serious for them. The childhood vaccination will be administered in most cases using a nasal spray, as this is more effective in children and has the added benefit of making it as simple as possible for children to get vaccinated and be protected.
“This year’s immunisations for children are a pilot programme, which will see 100,000 children across Scotland, in every health board area, receiving the vaccine. But when implemented 1 million children across Scotland will receive the vaccine.
“I would urge anyone who is eligible to receive the vaccine to make sure they get it. It is safe and effective and might just prevent you from becoming seriously ill.”
Notes to Editors
The flu vaccination is available for free to:
People aged 65 and over
Those under 65 with a condition that puts them at greater risk
Health and Social care workers
Children aged 2-17 with 2 and 3 year olds starting to receive the nasal fluenz vaccination this year
100,000 children from a selection of primary schools in every health board area will take part in a pilot programme over 2013 / 2014
Scotland has achieved the highest vaccination levels for seasonal flu and the existing childhood immunisation programme across the UK, with the exception of Northern Ireland.
The routine seasonal flu vaccination programme will begin officially on 1 October. The new national social marketing campaign includes a TV advert which will go live on the 1 October. The campaign focuses on people at risk of flu and the serious health and emotional consequences of flu has on people and those close to them. The campaign carries the strapline, The Flu Vaccine: Better Safe Than Sorry.
People not eligible for a free vaccination can get the vaccine in many high street pharmacies for a small fee.
The childhood vaccine will be administered using a nasal spray, and will be delivered by a combination of schools and GP practices. It offers better protection to children against flu than the previous injectable vaccine.