Thousands more children eligible for flu vaccine this winter

Kent County Council is supporting calls by Public Health England for parents whose children have not yet been vaccinated against flu to do so before the winter flu season begins.

For the first time, children in school year 4, along with children aged four and over in school years reception, 1, 2 and 3, can get their free flu vaccination, in the form of a nasal spray, in school.

The added school year means that an extra 170,000 children can benefit from protection against the flu virus this coming winter. Young children are particularly vulnerable to flu and are most likely to spread flu to others. Vaccinating them is one of the best ways to protect them and the wider community against flu.

Children aged 2 and 3 are also offered the nasal spray vaccine. While it is early in the season, currently only around 14% of children in this age group have received their vaccination. Last year, an estimated 62% of 2 to 4-year-olds and 45% of school age children missed out on getting the vaccine.

Flu and complications associated with it cause 8,000 deaths on average a year in England. Around 6,000 of these are people with heart and lung disease. Michael Baker, PHE South East deputy director for healthcare public health, said: “Vaccinating those who are most likely to get flu both protects them and offers indirect protection to the rest of the population by reducing the amount of virus circulating.

“Flu can be much more dangerous for children than many parents realise and when children get flu they tend to spread it around the whole family. The child vaccination programme is really beneficial in reducing the spread of flu to other more vulnerable family members for whom flu can be very serious.”

Chief Medical Officer, Professor Dame Sally Davies, said: “Any child can catch flu, thousands do every year and some end up in hospital as a result. Parents should not be complacent – the single most effective way to protect your children against flu this winter is to get them vaccinated with the simple nasal spray. Children can be super spreaders so getting them vaccinated not only protects them but also those around them.”

The national drive to encourage eligible people to get their flu vaccination is part of Stay Well This Winter, a joint initiative Public Health England and NHS England – and supported by Kent County Council – to help the most vulnerable people prepare for winter and avoid having to visit hospital due to common winter illnesses.

Reducing flu transmission by children in the community can has been found to help cut the number of GP appointments and unplanned admissions for children and adults, reducing winter pressures on the NHS.

The school aged children flu vaccination programme is being delivered to schools across Kent and Medway by the school immunisation team. Schools sessions will take place from October to the end of December. Kent County Council Director of Public Health, Andrew Scott-Clark said: “We are urging parents to make sure children are protected as they can easily spread the illness among their friends and family. In the worst cases, seasonal flu can result in a stay in hospital, and it can even be fatal. Younger girls and boys can get the vaccine as a nasal spray rather than a jab but having one can make a huge difference.”

Children aged 2 and 3 years of age (date of birth: 01/09/13 to 31/08/15) will be offered the vaccination in general practice. School aged children in clinical risk groups may be offered vaccination in general practice. Parents can contact the school immunisation team on 0300 123 5205 for further information.

To get your vaccine or find out if you are eligible, contact your GP, pharmacist or midwife for more information. Visit for more details on how to help you and your family to stay well this winter. The flu vaccination programme will be extended gradually to older age groups in primary school in future years.



Notes to Editors

For more information, please visit:

PHE reports weekly on flu circulating in the community and vaccine uptake. The latest weekly report can be found here:

Thousands more children eligible for flu vaccine this winter was last modified: November 7th, 2017 by Gemma Smith