The dreaded jab could be a thing of the past across our district, as youngsters take part in a pilot flu vaccination - in the form of a nasal spray.
The vaccination is being offered to all secondary schools in the Harrogate district for children in years seven and eight as it extends across North Yorkshire, and parents will have to give consent before any vaccination is carried out on their child.
Once schools have agreed to vaccinate to their youngest pupils in the form of a nasal spray, school nursing teams will carry out the vaccination.
Harrogate High executive headteacher Andrew Bayston said: “One of the things we are working on at the moment is wellbeing. At the school we have improved a great deal the aspects of our provision, and this seemed to be in keeping with our focus on making wellbeing a priority.
“We know that children are pretty good at spreading coughs and colds, just because they’re young, but this will help families as well because it will stop the spread of disease to family members.
“In a small number of cases symptoms can lead to further complications like bronchitis or ear infections, so we need to work hard to keep ourselves healthy and that is entirely in keeping with what we have been working on in the past 18 months, so I had no hesitation is saying yes, it is a good idea.
“It is pretty innocuous as well as a nasal spray, so we don’t have to go through the anxiety of it being injections.”
As the local public health authority, North Yorkshire County Council (NYCC) is delivering the pilot with the NHS Public Health England.
While Harrogate High School and St Aidan’s Church of England High School said they will be taking part, no other Harrogate secondary school could confirm their involvement in the pilot scheme.
However, an NYCC spokesman told the Harrogate Advertiser that all schools, both local authority and private, are being invited to take part but letters haven’t all gone out yet.
St Aidan’s headteacher John Wood said: “Our view is that anything that protects people by means of this vaccination does appear to be good.
“Children would be one of the main means by which flu is transmitted, so if the vaccination helps vulnerable people within families I would have thought that would be a good way of counteracting the virus that affects people each year.”
Side effects can include a runny or blocked nose, headache, general tiredness, and some loss of appetite. Children should not have the vaccine if they are wheezy, severely asthmatic, allergic to any parts of the vaccine, or have an immune-system weakening condition.
The pilot is designed to help understand how best to vaccinate large numbers of children in a short period of time, and this will go into plans to expand the flu programme to more children.
North Yorkshire’s executive member for Public Health and Prevention Coun Don MacKenzie said: “We want to improve the health and wellbeing of our residents and vaccinating our young people against what can be a serious illness for some will benefit not only the children involved, but also their families by helping to reduce the likelihood of spreading the virus.”
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