The annual flu immunisation programme to protect school children across Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire is getting underway this week.
The programme is offering immunisation to around 70,000 children in school years from reception to year five. Children and young people up to the age of 17 attending schools for those with special educational needs will be offered the vaccine.
317 schools will be visited by nurses as part of the programme while children who are home school educated will be invited to attend clinics to receive the vaccine
This year, the vaccination programme is being carried out across Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire by NSCP (North Somerset Community Partnership), Sirona care & health and Bristol Community Health (BCH) – the three organisations who deliver NHS community services across these areas.
In previous years other organisations delivered the vaccination programme in South Gloucestershire and Bristol.
But, for winter 2018/19, Sirona and BCH have joined up with NSCP, who have successfully delivered the vaccination programme in North Somerset for the past two years, achieving a 70% vaccination rate in winter 2017/18 – the best immunisation rate achieved in the South West.
Since September 2015 the children’s flu vaccine has been offered as a yearly nasal spray free to eligible children.
There are 18 nurses and nine Health Care Assistants working on delivering the vaccination programme across the area.
Helen Court, Immunisation Coordinator, NSCP, said: “The flu vaccination is really important for young children, who are more susceptible to the virus. Flu can make children very ill and in extreme cases death is possible. By vaccinating their child, parents are offering the best possible protection”.
Karen Evans, Head of School Nursing (South Gloucestershire) and Specialist Services for Sirona, said: “Vaccinating children protects others who are vulnerable to flu, such as babies, older people, pregnant women and people with serious long-term illnesses”.
Maria Hennessy, Lead Nurse for Public Health Nursing, Bristol Community Health, said: “Children spread flu because they don’t always use tissues properly or wash their hands fully. Receiving the flu vaccine has historically reduced sickness levels in schools and workplaces”.
Judith Brown, Chief Executive, NSCP, said: “NSCP has a strong track record of achieving high vaccination rates for children in North Somerset. We were delighted to team up with Sirona and Bristol Community Health to run the vaccination programme across Bristol, South Gloucestershire as well as North Somerset.
“We plan to share our best practice across the region and ensure as many children as possible receive this important immunisation”.