This guidance will help school teachers prepare pupils for what to expect during their flu vaccination at school this year. It will also signpost to relevant resources.
Primary schools in Scotland have successfully supported the flu immunisation programme since 2014. School staff continue to have a pivotal role in delivering this school-based national programme.
The flu vaccination programme is now available for:
- children aged 2 to 5 years and not yet at school (children must be aged two years or above on 1 September 2021 to be eligible)
- primary school children (primary 1 to primary 7)
NHSScotland recommends that children and young people get the flu vaccine this year.
This is for three reasons:
- flu can be serious and life-threatening, even for healthy children
- to reduce the risk of children and young people spreading flu to friends and family
- to help prevent the flu virus putting extra strain on our NHS services this winter
About the vaccine
The flu vaccine is usually given to children as a nasal (nose) spray into each nostril. This is more effective than the injection and it is quick and painless.
The vaccine is safe and does not cause flu.
Some children will need to receive the flu vaccine as an injection in their upper arm. For example, children who have severe asthma or have medical conditions that make their immune system weak should not receive the nasal spray vaccine.
The nasal spray vaccine contains a highly processed form of gelatine (pork gelatine). This is used in a range of essential medicines. The gelatine helps to keep the vaccine viruses stable so that the vaccine provides the best protection.
Many faith groups have approved the use of vaccines containing gelatine. This includes Muslim and Jewish communities. However, it is the parent’s or carer’s choice whether they want their child to have the nasal spray vaccine.
Those who choose not to have the nasal spray vaccine, for religious or other reasons, may request the injectable alternative when completing the consent form.
Consent guidance and parental consent
Boxes of consent packs will be delivered to each school. These should be distributed to parents and carers. Parents or carers should sign and return the consent form to school even if their child is not going to have the vaccine.
If parents or carers of children raise any concerns about the immunisation programme, you should signpost them to
• NHS inform flu vaccine information for primary and secondary school children (external website)
• their local NHS health board – the phone number is on their invitation letter.
Preparing for flu immunisations in schools
Once consent packs are delivered to schools, it's important that these are distributed to reach parents and carers as soon as possible. The consent packs are pre-printed and will be provided to you ready to distribute.
Before giving out packs, make teachers and staff aware that forms are personalised for each child. Blank consent packs are provided and can be used if a personalised form for a pupil is missing.
Parents and carers need to return completed consent forms to schools as soon as possible.
All teachers and staff must know where to return the parental consent forms. The consent forms should be returned in their envelopes.
Your local NHS health board will arrange a date with you to collect returned parental consent forms.
If possible, please use school methods to remind parents and pupils to return completed consent forms.
Communication methods can include:
- social media such as Twitter or Facebook
- website content
We have produced digital resources for the flu vaccination programme. Social media assets, and an email template, can be downloaded for use by your school.
School staff may wish to use digital resources in class or on social media. We have produced a classroom activity sheet and a short animation for this purpose.
The flu vaccination will no longer be offered this season to:
- teachers, nursery teachers and pupil-facing support staff in both a local authority and independent setting
Due to the new Omicron variant, NHS Scotland is rolling out the coronavirus vaccine programme more quickly as a priority and will no longer be offering flu vaccines alongside coronavirus boosters at the community clinics.