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Immunisations for school aged children

Right now, you might be worried that with schools being closed, your child is going to be missing out on their essential immunisations.

As I’m sure you’ll know, due to COVID-19, the school aged immunisation programme is currently on hold. Your child will be fine to wait, as school aged children should have immunity to most diseases from their pre-school vaccines. The ones they receive at school act as a booster for protection later in life.

GPs don’t administer vaccines to school children, only pre-schoolers and babies. GPs are still able to administer their immunisations, which is really important because babies have yet to build up any immunity to these infectious diseases.

About school aged immunisations

So who gives immunisations to your school children? And what immunisations will they receive?

Well, our team is made up of Registered Nurses and Health Care Support Workers. We cover all schools in East and West Berkshire, as well as home educated children and running catch up clinics. We give a long list of important immunisations to children.

  • Flu (usually a nasal spray). We give this to all primary school aged children in the autumn term. Flu can be a horrible illness in children and can lead to serious complications. If as many children as possible have the flu vaccination, we can them and their family in time for winter as the infection can’t spread as easily.
  • HPV - or Human Papilloma Virus. Boys and girls get this immunisation in year 8 with a second dose in year 9..
    • There are around 200 types of HPV, many are harmless, but some cause genital warts, cancer of the penis, anus, mouth and throat in boys, and cancer of the cervix, vagina, vulva, anus, mouth and throat in girls.
    • HPV can be passed on by intimate sexual contact with someone who has the virus Condoms can lower the risk of infection, but they can’t prevent the spread completely as HPV can infect parts of the body not covered by a condom. Nasty, right?
  • Diphtheria, Tetanus, Polio. This is given in year 9 so is sometimes called the school leaver’s booster.
    • Tetanus is a painful disease affecting the nervous system and is caused when germs found in soil and manure get into the body through open wounds.
    • Diphtheria is a serious disease that often begins with a sore throat. It can damage the heart, nervous system and in severe cases may kill.
    • Polio is a virus that attacks the nervous system and can cause paralysis of the muscles; if it affects the chest muscles or brain it can kill.
    • You need five doses of tetanus, diphtheria and polio to build up and maintain immunity.
  • Meningitis ACWY. This is given in year 9. This vaccine protects against the four main groups of meningococcal bacteria that can cause meningitis (infection of the layers that surround the brain and spinal cord) and septicaemia (blood poisoning). Meningococcal disease is rare but really serious and can lead to amputation, hearing loss, brain damage and scars.
  • We can also vaccinate children who have missed one or both doses of the combined MMR vaccine.

So as you can see, it’s really important that your child has their vaccinations. But don’t worry about the impact of COVID-19 – we’ll be making sure that we catch up with all our immunisations this year and no students will be missing them. We’ll contact you about how this will happen when it’s safe to do so.

For more information…

If you need more advice on immunising your 4-16 year old, you can call the School Aged Immunisation Advice Line on 07929 185006 from 10am-2pm Monday to Friday, excluding Bank Holidays.

And visit our web page for more information on immunisations

We look forward to being able to help support you!

About the author

Nicky Smith is our Health Inequalities Nurse