HEALTH chiefs have started a programme which they say will protect more than 20,000 Sunderland primary school children from flu.
Youngsters at 80 schools on Wearside will receive the vaccine in the form of a nasal spray between now and December to protect them from the infection.
The scheme, which was yesterday launched at Northern Saints Primary School, Red House, is part of a wider North East pilot which will see around 53,000 children receive the nasal vaccine.
Dr Tricia Cresswell, consultant in health protection for Public Health England, said: “Flu is not just a cold – it can be a really serious illness for some people.
“And it doesn’t just affect older people – healthy children are also susceptible to flu and its associated complications such as pneumonia.
“So we’re delighted that so many Sunderland schools have signed up to take part in the pilot and that parents and guardians have seen the value of their children receiving this effective protection from flu.”
Councillor John Kelly, portfolio holder for public health, at Sunderland City Council, said: “The nasal spray vaccination is a quick, painless and effective way of protecting children from flu without the need for injections.
“Flu can be a very unpleasant illness in children as they suffer the same symptoms as adults including fever, chills and aching muscles.
“The flu vaccination will not only help protect children from flu but also reduce the chance of flu spreading to others.”
Parents will receive a letter and consent form from the school nursing service before children are given the vaccine.