England

Flu vaccine to be given to 53,000 North East children

Nurse giving nasal spray to a school pupil
Image caption The nasal spray flu vaccine will be given to 53,000 children

Around 53,000 primary school children in the North East are to be offered a flu vaccine as part of a pilot scheme.

The child vaccine was piloted last year and given to children in seven areas in England, including Gateshead.

Now it is to be rolled out to 200 schools in Gateshead, South Tyneside and Sunderland, with children getting the nasal spray vaccine from September.

Public Heath England said giving it to children would help stop them infecting siblings and elderly relatives.

A spokesman said the aim of the programme was to determine the best way to protect children and eventually roll out the vaccine programme to all children aged two to 16.

'Serious illness'

Dr Tricia Cresswell, consultant in health protection for Public Health England, said: "Early evaluation suggested the pilots had a positive impact as areas with pilots saw fewer flu-related GP consultations, hospitalisations and emergency A and E attendances.

"Flu is not just a cold - it can be a really serious illness for some people.

"It doesn't just affect older people - healthy children are still susceptible to flu and its associated complications such as pneumonia.

'Flu is highly contagious and children can also pass on the virus to those who are at risk of becoming more seriously ill from flu, such as pregnant women and the over 65s."

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