Health experts blast parents who plan to take their children out of school to avoid flu vaccines

Daily Mail Online 3 weeks ago

Health experts warned parents could be putting lives at risk by not vaccinating their children against the flu.

Primary schools will administer a nasal spray flu vaccine over the coming weeks as part of a nationwide NHS scheme to protect against the illness, which kills an average of 8,000 people every year.

The nasal spray has been proven to vastly reduce the number of children hospitalised with influenza and who present with influenza-like symptoms, according to Public Health England. 

This is particularly important as children are so-called 'super spreaders' who are more likely to pass infection onto others, including those most vulnerable to illness such as pregnant women, babies and the elderly.

Primary schools will administer a nasal spray flu vaccine as part of a nationwide scheme to protect against the illness, which kills an average of 8,000 people every year. Stock image
Primary schools will administer a nasal spray flu vaccine as part of a nationwide scheme to protect against the illness, which kills an average of 8,000 people every year. Stock image

Professor Yvonne Doyle, Medical Director at Public Health England (PHE), explained: 'Every winter there is always the threat of a bad flu season. Flu is a serious illness and can even be deadly for the most vulnerable of our population. 

'Children are ‘super spreaders’ of flu. Flu vaccination not only protects the children but it also protects other more vulnerable members of the community from a potentially horrible illness.'

However despite the overwhelming scientific research some parents still refuse to allow their children to be vaccinated. 

Indeed some so set against immunisations they plan to remove their children from school on 'vaccination day' to ensure they do not receive the flu vaccine, even though they can opt out of the programme. 

Speaking to Femail, five mothers from across the UK explained their reasons for keeping their children at home. 

Many believe dangerous falsehoods circulating on social media - and at the school gate - that claim the nasal spray vaccine poses a health risk to children. 

One of the most common myths is that the nasal spray can cause flu. However the vaccine contains viruses that have been weakened to prevent them causing flu. 

It means a child can build up immunity to flu in a similar way as natural infection, but without the symptoms. 

Dr Richard Pebody, Head of Flu, Public Health England explained: 'The nasal spray does not cause flu and there is no need for parents to keep their healthy children off school while the childhood vaccine programme is underway.'

Several of the mothers who spoke to Femail claimed their children were struck by illness after coming into contact with particles released by the spray, even when not being administered with the vaccinations themselves. 

Others claimed children who had received the vaccine later 'shed' the virus, infecting other children. 

However this was roundly dismissed by Dr Pebody: 'The nasal spray contains a weakened form of the flu virus and does not cause flu in those receiving the vaccine or those around them.

'Contacts are not at risk of becoming seriously ill with the flu vaccine virus, either through being in the same room where flu vaccine has been given or by being in contact with a recently vaccinated individual.'

The nasal spray has been proven to vastly reduce the number of children hospitalised with influenza and who present with influenza-like symptoms. Stock image
The nasal spray has been proven to vastly reduce the number of children hospitalised with influenza and who present with influenza-like symptoms. Stock image

A PHE spokesperson added: 'Although vaccinated children are known to shed virus a few days after vaccination, the vaccine virus that is shed is less able to spread from person to person than the natural infection.

'The amount of virus shed is normally below the levels needed to pass on infection (transmit) to others and the virus does not survive for long outside of the body. 

'This is in contrast to natural flu infection, which spreads easily during the flu season. In schools using vaccine, therefore, the overall risk of influenza transmission is massively reduced by having a large number of children vaccinated.'

There are some minor side effects associated with the flu vaccine. NHS guidelines children might develop a runny or blocked nose or headache after having the vaccine. 

In very rare cases - about 1 in 900,000 vaccinations - a child can suffer a severe allergic reaction to the vaccine. 

Tags: Femail

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