NHS Borders is encouraging parents and carers to ensure their child gets their flu vaccine this winter.

The expansion of the flu programme to include secondary school pupils continues this winter, with all school age pupils, all children aged 2-5 and children aged 6 months to under 2 years with a condition that puts them at increased risk of flu, being eligible for a free flu vaccine.

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The flu vaccine is usually given as painless nasal spray and is a safe way to help protect your child against flu. It should start to protect most children against flu about 10-14 days after they get their vaccine.

The vaccine will reduce the risk of your child getting flu or spreading it to family and friends who are at greater risk from flu.

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Appointment letters for children 6 months to 2 years at risk and those aged 2 to 5 who are not in school started arriving in August with details of where and when the vaccine will be given.

Parents and carers should call the number on their child’s letter if their child has missed their appointment or needs to reschedule. 

Consent forms and information about this year’s flu vaccine were sent home to parents and carers of school children when they returned to school in August. Secondary pupils can self-consent but are encouraged to speak to speak to a parent or carer first.

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All primary and secondary school pupils with consent to be given the flu vaccine nasal spray will receive this at school between 4 September and 15 December.

Dr Sohail Bhatti, Director of Public Health at NHS Borders, said: “The flu virus changes every year, that’s why it’s important to get an annual vaccination so that your child has the most up to date protection.

"Getting your child vaccinated against flu can also protect them from other infections with bacteria that can follow flu and prevent them from getting sick and missing out on nursery, school or other activities.

“Please look out for your child’s appointment letter by post or a consent form in their school bag, and complete and return this to their school to ensure they get the vital protection this year’s flu vaccine offers.”