Public Health England and NHS England have advised GPs to call in all eligible children for flu vaccination by early December, following an end to the temporary pause in ordering nasal flu vaccines.
The health bodies announced today that primary school vaccination clinics were now underway again and vaccinations would be rescheduled ‘as soon as possible’, but that children in high-risk groups should see their GP to be vaccinated if their school session was delayed.
GPs were warned earlier this month that they might have to vaccinate children due to supply delays affecting primary school clinics in mid-November.
Parents of two and three-year-olds are being told to visit their GP, as well as children who are at high risk of catching flu, including those with chronic respiratory or heart conditions and those who are immunosuppressed.
PHE and NHS England said that vulnerable children were being prioritised and that if a GP or school was unable to offer the nasal vaccine, the child should be offered the injected vaccine instead to avoid delays in being protected.
Professor Martin Marshall, chair of the RCGP, said that vaccination is the best defence against flu and that the college ‘strongly urges all patients in at-risk groups to get vaccinated and for parents to ensure their young children receive their vaccine as soon as possible’.
Those aged over 65, pregnant women and adults with underlying health problems were also urged to get their free flu vaccine via the adult flu programme, which has continued to run as normal.
PHE told GPs back in October to only order as much nasal flu vaccine as they needed for the upcoming week and to avoid stockpiling to ensure that supply met demand during the delays.
The directive comes as research published earlier this month found that vaccinating pregnant women against flu reduced infection and hospitalisation in babies, even when the main circulating strain was different to that in the vaccine.