Nasal spray flu vaccine
A letter from Sandra Dredge, Senior Nurse, Children, Young People and Family Health Services (CYPF)
The school nursing team will be visiting St Teilo’s in December to offer children the nasal spray flu vaccine. This year the programme has been extended and flu immunisation will be offered to all pupils in Years 7 to 11, as part of the wider planning for winter.
It’s very important to protect your child from flu to make sure they stay as healthy as possible, as both COVID-19 and flu are likely to circulate this winter. Flu is caused by viruses and spreads easily. Anyone can get flu but children have the highest rate of infection and flu can be serious for them. Complications can include bronchitis, pneumonia and ear infections. Some children get so ill they need to go into hospital. Immunising your child will also help reduce the chance of children spreading flu to others who are at high risk from flu, such as young babies, grandparents, and those with long-term health conditions.
St Teilo’s will send you an electronic consent form for the nasal spray flu vaccine later in the term, along with information and a notification of the vaccination date. Please complete the electronic consent form as soon as you receive it. If you have any difficulties accessing or completing the electronic consent form – or if you need any further advice – please contact the immunisation team on immunisation.CAVUHBschoolnursing@wales.nhs.uk or telephone 02920907678.
The nasal spray flu vaccine contains a small amount of porcine gelatine; it is used in vaccines as a stabiliser to ensure that the vaccine remains safe and effective during storage. Unlike the gelatine used in foods, the product used in vaccines is highly purified and broken down into very small molecules. Flu vaccine injections do not have gelatine in them, but they do not work as well in children. If you would like your child to have the flu vaccine injection you will need to make an appointment with your GP surgery for this. Your child will not be able to receive the flu vaccine injection in school. If the nasal spray flu vaccine is not suitable, please complete the consent form as appropriate.
If there are any changes to your child’s health before the vaccination session, please ensure that you notify the school nurse as their immunisation may need to be delayed.
Information about flu vaccination for children
The flu vaccine for most children is a nasal spray. It will help protect them and the people close to them against flu. It’s easy for you to make sure they get it, all you need to do is fill in the electronic consent form which will be sent to you by St Teilo’s approximately 3 weeks prior to the immunisation session.
Flu is serious
Flu spreads easily, and with society getting back to normal it is likely that flu rates will be higher this year alongside circulating COVID-19. People of any age can get flu, but children have the highest rate of infection, and flu can be serious for them. Complications can include bronchitis, pneumonia and ear infections. Some children get so ill they need to be admitted to hospital. You can read more about flu and possible complications here: www.phw.nhs.wales/fluvaccine.
Benefits of the nasal spray flu vaccine for children
Flu vaccine helps protect children from flu and also helps stop them spreading it to family and friends. Some children can still get flu after having the vaccine but the infection is usually milder. The vaccine is a simple painless nasal spray, which gives them better protection than a flu injection. Your child will have their maximum protection starting around two weeks after having their vaccine.
Flu vaccines are safe
Over the years, millions of children in the UK have had the nasal spray flu vaccine and it has been shown to be very safe. The flu vaccine cannot cause flu. Like all medicines, the nasal spray flu vaccine may cause side effects for some children. Common side effects include: a runny or blocked nose, a slight temperature, tiredness, a headache, a reduced appetite or aching muscles for a day or two after the vaccine. You can report any side effects online at coronavirus-yellowcard.mhra.gov.uk/ or via the Yellow Card app. The flu vaccine will be provided in a COVID-19 safe environment.
There are very few reasons for children to miss out on their flu vaccine
It is perfectly safe for your child to have the flu vaccine if they have a cold or minor illness on the day. Your child should NOT have the vaccine IF they:
- have had a serious allergic reaction to the vaccine or any part of it;
- are on long-term aspirin (salicylate) treatment;
- have needed intensive care following a severe allergic reaction to eggs or egg products;
- have had oral steroids in the past 14 days;
- have a wheezy chest on the day of the vaccination or in the previous three days;
- have increased the use of their asthma inhaler in the last three days;
- have a condition or treatment that weakens their immune system; or
- are in close contact with someone who has a very weakened immune system and needs to be isolated (for example, after a bone marrow transplant).
If your child cannot have the nasal spray because of one of these reasons, they will be offered a flu vaccine injection instead, and the school nurse will advise you on this.
For more information about flu visit www.phw.nhs.wales/fluvaccine