Study into impact of new flu vaccine

This Is Lancashire: Imogen Sowerby, aged four, receives the new nasal flu vaccine at Christ Church Primary School, Ainsworth Imogen Sowerby, aged four, receives the new nasal flu vaccine at Christ Church Primary School, Ainsworth

A scheme to monitor the impact of a pioneering flu vaccination programme in Bury has been launched.

Residents are being encouraged to help assess whether the introduction of flu vaccines for children has had an effect on the spread of the virus.

Bury was one of only seven local authorities in the country to trial a new nasal spray vaccine to primary schools. The vaccination drive was regarded as a success, with almost 10,000 primary schoolchildren in Bury having the vaccine.

The initiative is designed to target children, as they are one of the most likely age groups to pass on the virus.

Now scientists at London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and British Science Association are asking residents to visit the Flusurvey website and report their symptoms.

Dr Alma Adler, a Flusurvey researcher, said: “The Government’s decision to vaccinate youngsters was based in part on our Flusurvey findings from previous years that epidemics often start in schools, and spread to the adult population.

“We want as many people as possible in Bury to sign up to Flusurvey so we can monitor what impact the early roll-out of the vaccination programme for children aged four to 11 has had.

“Flu levels are still very low in the UK right now, but where there are flu cases, we’re seeing most of them among under-18s.”

Schools are also being asked to contribute, so the impact of the vaccination in the borough’s classrooms can be measured.

Imran Khan, chief execuitve officer of the British Science Association, added: “Schoolchildren will be at the forefront of science helping researchers understand more about flu in a landmark year for study of the virus.”

The data received by Flusurvey is then supplied to Public Health England, who map flu trends and help medics and health services prepare.

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