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DHSC announces free flu vaccination for all secondary school pupils 

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The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has announced a free flu vaccine for all secondary school pupils in England from September for the 2023/24 season.

The government has expanded the vaccine programme to over three million pupils in secondary school years 7 to 11, who will be offered the vaccine as a nasal spray through their school’s vaccination programme from 1 September.

Health Minister, Maria Caulfield, said: “Expanding the offer of flu vaccination to all secondary school pupils this winter will provide millions of young people with extra protection.

Importantly, this will also reduce the risk of transmission to more vulnerable groups, including the elderly, reducing hospitalisations and freeing up bed capacity across the NHS.

Last winter we saw the devastating impact this illness can have, so it is important all pupils take up the offer of the flu vaccine to protect themselves and their loved ones from falling unwell.

The decision to expand the programme is in line with a long-standing recommendation from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), which highlights the benefits of directly protecting school-aged children from flu, and the indirect benefits to the wider population.

NHS school aged immunisation services will be undertaking the vaccinations from September during the autumn term. All primary school children and infants aged 2 and 3 will also be offered the flu vaccine, as previously announced in May.

Dr Mary Ramsay, Head of Immunisation, UKHSA, said: “Getting the flu vaccine offers the best protection against the virus. It is important everyone eligible takes up the offer, including secondary school pupils as they can fall very sick. Last year we saw some teenagers hospitalised with flu. Expanding the vaccination to secondary school pupils will help to reduce flu from being spread, protecting their friends and family and easing the burden on the NHS.

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