The flu vaccination programme:

who, where and when

What do parents and guardians need to know about this year’s programme?

We know deciding to get your child vaccinated is an incredibly important decision, but where do you begin?

We thought we could lend a helping hand, and have included some frequently asked questions for parents and guardians.

For any other questions, make sure you contact your local healthcare professional.

Who is being offered the vaccine this year?

In England in 2017/18, the national flu immunisation programme includes1;

  • All children aged two to eight (but not nine years or older) on 31 August 2017 (i.e. date of birth on or after 1 September 2009 and on or before 31 August 2015)
  • All children in clinical risk groups
  • All primary school-aged children in some areas where they have been vaccinated in their schools before

In Wales, it includes2;

  • All 2 and 3 year olds through GP practices
  • All children in school reception classes (aged 4-5), Year 1-4 (aged 5-9)
  • All children in clinical risk groups

In Scotland, it includes3;

  • All children aged 2-5 (not yet at school) through GP practices (children must be aged 2 or above on 1 September 2017)
  • All primary school aged children at school
  • All children in clinical risk groups

In Northern Ireland, it includes4;

  • All pre-school children aged two years or more on the 1 September 2017 (D.O.B range 02/07/13 – 01/09/15)
  • All primary school aged children at school
  • All children in clinical risk groups

Why are so many children being vaccinated?

A comprehensive flu vaccination programme including as many eligible children as possible before flu season starts can help to protect them in time for the winter.5 As well as helping to protect children, the flu vaccination programme can help to protect the rest of the family, including more vulnerable members, like grandparents.5

What are the symptoms of flu vs cold?

Flu is not just a ‘bad cold’.

Colds and flu share some of the same symptoms (cough, sore throat etc.), but are caused by different viruses, and flu can be much more serious than a cold.5

Visit our flu symptoms page to find out more about the symptoms to watch out for.

Why should I get my child vaccinated?

Flu can be a very unpleasant illness in children that can often last several days. Some children can get a very high fever, and may need to go to hospital. Serious complications of flu can include a painful ear infection, bronchitis, and pneumonia.5

My child had a vaccine last year. Do they need another this year?

Yes they do; the flu vaccine for each winter helps provide protection against the strains of flu that are likely to circulate that year, and which may differ from the previous year. The World Health Organisation (WHO) monitors outbreaks of flu around the globe, and recommends twice annually which strains should be included in influenza vaccines for the northern and southern hemisphere.6 For this reason it is recommended that even if vaccinated last year, your child should be vaccinated again this year.5

References
  1. Department of Health. The National Flu Immunisation Programme 2017/18. Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/600880/annual_flu__letter_2017to2018.pdf (Last Accessed: August 2017)
  2. Welsh Health Circular. The National Influenza Programme 2016-17. Available at: http://www.gpone.wales.nhs.uk/sitesplus/documents/1000/WHC2017%20031%20-%20The%20National%20Influenza%20Immunisation%20Programme%202017-18_%20English_pdf.pdf (Last accessed: August 2017)
  3. The Scottish Government. Chief Medical Office Directorate. SCOTTISH CHILDHOOD FLU VACCINATION PROGRAMME 2017-18. Available at: http://www.sehd.scot.nhs.uk/cmo/CMO(2017)12.pdf (Last accessed: August 2017)
 
  1. Department of Health, Chief Medical Officer. SEASONAL INFLUENZA VACCINATION PROGRAMME 2017/18. Available at: https://www.health-ni.gov.uk/sites/default/files/publications/health/hss-md-14-2017.pdf (Last accessed: August 2017)
  2. Department of Health. The flu vaccination winter 2017 to 2018: who should have it and why. Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/618591/Flu_vaccination__A5_booklet.pdf (Last accessed: August 2017)
  3. World Health Organisation. Influenza. Available at: who.int/influenza/vaccines/virus/en (Last accessed: August 2017)
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