Free flu vaccines will be offered to ALL 3million secondary school pupils this winter
- It is hoped the jabs will curb the spread of the virus to more vulnerable Britons
- READ MORE: NHS chief blames worst sickness rates on record on pandemic
A free flu vaccine will be offered to all secondary school pupils in England in the next academic year, the Government has confirmed.
Over 3million pupils in years seven to 11 will be able to receive the vaccine as a nasal spray from school age immunisation providers from September 1.
It is hoped an expansion of the vaccination programme will give both direct protection to pupils receiving the vaccine and indirect protection to more vulnerable groups by reducing the spread of the virus.
Figures released by the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) last month estimated there were more than 14,500 flu-associated deaths in the 2022/23 season, the highest number for five years.
Health Minister Maria Caulfield said: ‘Expanding the offer of flu vaccination to all secondary school pupils this winter will provide millions of young people with extra protection.
Over 3million pupils in years seven to 11 will be able to receive the vaccine as a nasal spray from school age immunisation providers from September 1 (stock image)
‘Last winter, we saw the devastating impact this illness can have, so it is important all pupils take up the offer of the flu vaccine to protect themselves and their loved ones from falling unwell.’
Ms Caulfield said the move should reduce hospitalisations among the elderly and free up bed capacity across the NHS.
It follows earlier confirmation in May that all primary school children and infants aged two and three will also be offered the flu vaccine.
The NHS also visited every care home in England last winter to deliver flu jabs alongside a Covid booster vaccine.
Steve Russell, NHS director of vaccinations and screening, said: ‘Last winter we saw how quickly flu can spread within communities, so I’m pleased to see the flu vaccination offer being extended to secondary school children in the autumn term.’
He added that vaccination was a quick and easy process, meaning there was ‘really no reason to delay when you receive the offer.’
Parents of children that are home-schooled can book in for a vaccine with their GP or at a community clinic.
It follows on from a Government decision to scale back free flu vaccine eligibility to pre-pandemic norms.
This year invites won’t be dished out to everyone aged 50 to 64, marking a U-turn on rollouts carried out during Covid.
Experts have called this reduction short-sighted and warned it could see the NHS overwhelmed in the event of a major flu outbreak.
Health bosses ruled that offering jabs to the extra age group — thought to cover around 12million people — wouldn’t be cost-effective.
READ MORE: NHS chief Amanda Pritchard blames the service’s worst sickness rates on record on the ‘extraordinary’ response to the pandemic
The chief executive of NHS England said the service was still suffering the pandemic’s effects with a rise in mental health and respiratory issues among staff
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