THOUSANDS of city pupils will be offered the flu vaccine as part of a pilot scheme this winter.
Youngsters at about 200 schools in Sunderland, Gateshead and South Tyneside will receive a nasal spray vaccine to protect them against the infection.
Pilot schemes – which will run between September and December – will take place in 13 different areas of the country.
By receiving the vaccine, children will also protect their younger siblings, grandparents and other close contacts, who may be at risk of becoming seriously ill if they catch flu.
The pilots were launched by Public Health England last year. Early research saw that pilot areas had fewer flu-related appointments with medics.
Nonnie Crawford, director of public health for Sunderland, said: “Immunisation is one of the most important ways to protect the public from serious diseases.
“Flu is the cause of thousands of lost work and school days, so immunisation protects both health and the local economy.
“We hope that offering the vaccine through schools proves to be one of the least disruptive and effective ways of vaccinating children.”
The pilot scheme will be offered to 197 primary schools in Gateshead, South Tyneside and Sunderland, as well as 11 special schools in the area.
Children will receive the Fluenz Tetra nasal spray vaccine from their school nurse.
About 250 children who are educated out of school will also be offered an appointment at a clinic during the half-term holiday in October.