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All secondary school students in England to be offered free flu vaccine

todayAugust 12, 2023 3

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All secondary school students in England to be offered free flu vaccine

More than three million secondary school pupils in England will be offered a free flu vaccine from September. 

The government confirmed on Tuesday it was expanding the scheme to all secondary school students.

It was announced in May that primary school children were eligible for the free vaccine, along with other groups at higher risk of flu including people aged 65 years and over, pregnant women and children aged two and three years old.

Children in secondary school in years seven to 11 will be offered the vaccine as a nasal spray from 1 September.

Health minister Maria Caulfield said the expansion of the vaccination programme “will provide millions of young people with extra protection”.

“Importantly, this will also reduce the risk of transmission to more vulnerable groups, including the elderly, reducing hospitalisations and freeing up bed capacity across the NHS,” she said.

“Last winter we saw the devastating impact this illness can have, so it is important all pupils take up the offer of the flu vaccine to protect themselves and their loved ones from falling unwell.”

All eligible groups have been urged to get the vaccine before the flu season begins to give themselves the best possible protection in winter.

NHS director of vaccinations and screening Steve Russell said: “The vaccine offers vital protection against flu which can cause nasty symptoms, and I would urge all young people and parents to make sure they join millions of others who get vaccinated each year to take up the offer when they can.

“It’s quick, easy and offered in schools, so there’s really no reason to delay when you receive the offer.”

Meanwhile, the head of immunisation at the UK Health Security Agency Dr Mary Ramsay said several teenagers had to spend time in hospital with flu last winter.

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“Expanding the vaccination to secondary school pupils will help to reduce flu from being spread, protecting their friends and family and easing the burden on the NHS,” she said.

Schools minister Nick Gibb said the expansion of the flu vaccine will help with pupils’ education.

“Following the disruption caused by the pandemic, it’s important that children are able to attend school as much as possible,” he said.

“We know that school attendance levels drop over the winter months due to illness, which is why today’s announcement will not only protect children’s health but also their education.”

Written by: Newsroom

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