To help reduce the impact of flu, the flu immunisation programme is available to:
- all primary school children in Scotland (primary 1 to primary 7)
Children aged 2 to 5 years and not yet at school are invited for the flu vaccine separately.
It is important that anyone who is eligible receives the flu vaccine this year.
Primary school pupils
From late summer, local NHS teams will start visiting primary schools to offer pupils the flu vaccine. This is a little earlier than usual.
The flu vaccine is given as a painless nasal (nose) spray. However, some children may need to get the injectable vaccine instead.
Teachers and support staff
Teachers and pupil facing support staff will no longer be offered the flu vaccination this season due to the rise of the Omicron variant and the prioritisation of the Covid-19 booster vaccinations.
Reasons school pupils may need the injectable flu vaccine
The nasal spray vaccine contains a highly processed form of pork gelatine. Many faith groups, including Muslim and Jewish communities, have approved the use of vaccines containing gelatine.
However, it is possible for children and young people who belong to a faith group to get the injectable vaccine instead.
The consent form has a tick box where parents or young people can select this option.
The nasal spray vaccine is usually safe for children and young people with egg allergies.
If an egg allergy is life threatening, or has resulted in a hospital stay, an injection in the arm must be given instead.
Children and young people may need to get an injection in their arm if they:
- have severe asthma and regularly need oral steroids for asthma control
- have a suppressed immune system because they are getting treatment for serious conditions, such as cancer, or if they have had a transplant
- have a serious condition which affects the immune system, such as severe primary immunodeficiency
- live with or are in close regular contact with very severely immunocompromised people who require isolation
- have had a severe reaction to a previous dose of the vaccine
- are undergoing salicylate treatment (for example taking aspirin)
Children with asthma and respiratory conditions
Parents must contact the school immunisation team if their child’s asthma worsens within the three days before the vaccination session in school.
- increased wheezing
- increased inhaler use
- use of oral (by mouth) steroids
Parents can contact the school immunisation team via the telephone number listed in the letter.
The letter is enclosed with the consent pack given to students.
Delayed and missed vaccines
Primary and secondary school pupils should delay getting the vaccine if:
- they’re very unwell (for example, with a fever, diarrhoea or vomiting)
- their asthma is worse than usual (they are wheezing more or have had to use their inhaler more than they normally do in the three days before their vaccination)
If a child or young person misses their vaccination, your school can help them to rearrange it. Another option is for parents/carers to contact their local NHS board (the number is on their letter) to find out about local arrangements for getting their child’s vaccine at another time.
Further public information about eligible groups is available on NHS inform (external website).