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Berkshire School-Aged Immunisation Team

About us

We offer the flu vaccination to all primary school aged children, and all children regardless of age in special needs schools. In Year 8 and 9, we offer the HPV vaccination to all young people. In Year 9, all young people are offered the DTP (their 5th booster of Diphtheria, Tetanus and Polio) and Meningitis ACWY, and we offer the MMR vaccine to anyone who has missed one or more doses.

For young people who are educated at home or elsewhere, please contact us (see Contact Us section) to arrange to have your vaccination in a clinic setting. If your child is particularly anxious, please contact us to discuss how we can work with you and your child to administer vaccines as stress-free as is possible.

Find out why vaccinations are so important for young people and adults. 

The Vaccine Knowledge Project is a reliable and trusted source of information. It is an independent organisation run by academics, providing up to date evidence-based information about vaccines and infectious diseases. It is a useful tool to help parents navigate the complex world of vaccines and helps to support informed decision-making.

 

We are a team of qualified nurses, healthcare assistants and administration staff.

We work closely with schools to plan and schedule immunisation sessions and arrange for communication to go out to parents regarding consent for vaccinations. We would be grateful if you could ensure that electronic consent forms are completed and submitted as soon as possible after receiving, even if you prefer your child not to be vaccinated.

If your child missed a planned vaccination session when schools were closed, we will reschedule this as soon as we can. GPs may not be commissioned to administer some school aged vaccinations, so please contact the Immunisation team with any queries.

Due to COVID-19, the team would like to reassure you that all precautions are being taken as per the national guidelines. All nursing staff will be wearing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to ensure children are safe from COVID-19 while getting vaccinated.

This Autumn term (2021-2022) the School-aged immunisation team will be returning to all primary and secondary schools to offer the flu vaccine to children in years Reception to year 11. This year it will also include those from years 7 to 11. If your child does not currently attend school, they will be invited to an alternative local community venue.

The children's flu vaccine is offered as a yearly nasal spray to children and young people to help protect them against flu. Flu can be a serious illness that leads to complications like bronchitis and pneumonia, and painful ear infections in children. Children under the age of 5 years old have the highest rate of hospital admission of any age group.

Vaccinating your child will not only help protect them from getting the flu but also prevent it spreading among vulnerable family members and friends. With COVID-19 in circulation, it is now more important than ever to protect people from getting ill with flu this winter and to protect the NHS.

Find out more about the child flu vaccine on the NHS website

See the Flu vaccine FAQs section for more information.

Secondary school leaflet

Primary School Leaflet

HPV is the name given to a very common group of viruses. There are many types of HPV, some of which are called "high risk". The vaccine protects against two of the high-risk strains of HPV 16 and 18 which are responsible for approximately 70% of cervical cancers and around 80% of anal, genital, head and neck cancers. It also protects against HPV types 6 and 11 which are responsible for 90% of genital warts.

All 12- and 13-year-olds in school Year 8 will be offered the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine. Your child will be invited to have the vaccination at school. If your child does not currently attend school, they will be invited to an alternative local community venue.

The second dose is normally offered 6 to 24 months after the first (in school Year 8 or Year 9). Two doses are required to achieve an optimal immune response.

MMR is a safe and effective combined vaccine that protects against 3 serious diseases – measles, mumps and rubella (German measles) – in a single injection. The full course of MMR vaccination requires 2 doses to achieve an optimal immune response. These vaccinations are normally given before primary school.

Measles, mumps and rubella are highly infectious conditions that can have serious, potentially fatal complications, including meningitis, swelling of the brain (encephalitis) and deafness.

Teenagers and MMR

If your child has missed any doses of MMR vaccine when they were younger, they can be given 1 or 2 doses of MMR vaccine in school. Your child will be invited to have the vaccination at school. If your child does not currently attend school, they will be invited to an alternative local community venue.

It is especially important for teenagers leaving home for college to be up to date with the MMR vaccine as they are at higher risk of mumps.

Diphtheria, Tetanus and Poliomyelitis 

Diphtheria is a highly contagious and potentially fatal infection that can affect the nose and throat, and sometimes the skin. It's rare in the UK but there's a small risk of catching it while travelling in some parts of the world.

Tetanus is a serious but rare condition caused by bacteria getting into a wound. If the bacteria enter the body through a wound, they can quickly multiply and release a toxin that affects the nerves, causing symptoms such as muscle stiffness and spasms.

The Polio virus attacks the nerves in the spine and base of the brain. This can cause paralysis, usually in the legs, that develops over hours or days. The paralysis isn't usually permanent, and movement will often slowly return over the next few weeks and months.

The teenage booster, also known as the 3-in-1 or the Td/IPV vaccine, is given to boost protection against 3 separate diseases: tetanus, diphtheria and polio. It's a single injection given into the muscle of the upper arm. It's routinely given at secondary school (in school Year 9) at the same time as the Men ACWY vaccine.

Your child will be invited to have the vaccination at school. I your child does not currently attend school, they will be invited to an alternative local community venue.

Meningococcal groups A, C, W-135 and Y

Meningitis is an infection of the protective membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord (meninges). It can affect anyone, but is most common in babies, young children, teenagers and young adults. Meningitis can be very serious if not treated quickly. It can cause life-threatening blood poisoning (septicemia) and result in permanent damage to the brain or nerves. It's a single injection given into the muscle of the upper arm. It's routinely given at secondary school (in school Year 9) at the same time as the DTP vaccine.

Your child will be invited to have the vaccination at school. If your child does not currently attend school, they will be invited to an alternative local community venue.

Please note that whilst parental consent is respected, the decision to participate is legally that of your child, as long as they understand what the procedure involves. This means that if you refuse, the vaccination may still be given if your child wishes to have it. Similarly, if you consent on behalf of your child and they refuse the vaccination, it will not be given.

 

We are fortunate to have access to a specialist immunisation nurse in Berkshire. If you, your child or a family you are working with is having difficulties accessing immunisation services due to mobility/social and/or environmental factors please email us at SchoolImmunisationTeam@berkshire.nhs.uk 'FAO health inequalities nurse', and someone will be in touch to support you with your query.

The Berkshire School Aged Immunisation Team can be contacted for advice and to book appointments, Monday to Friday from 9am to 4pm by telephone or email.

Telephone: 0300 365 0077

Email: SchoolImmunisationTeam@berkshire.nhs.uk

What vaccines should my child have had already?
You can see which vaccinations your child should have had by viewing the routine childhood schedule here.

I don’t know what vaccines my child has already had
You can contact the child health information service (CHIS) 0300 561 1851, or contact your GP.

How do I know what vaccines I am consenting to?
The E Consent letter you receive from the school immunisation team team will explain the vaccines being offered. There are links on the letter which will take you to further information about the vaccinations.

What vaccines are usually given at what age?

  • The nasal flu vaccination is given to children in the autumn term. In 2020 this was for all children in year R-Year 7 in mainstream school and for older children in special schools.
  • The HPV vaccination, protecting against cancers caused by the HPV virus is given to boys and girls in years 8 and 9.
  • The teenage booster vaccinations, protecting against Meningococcal strains ACW&Y and the tetanus, diphtheria and polio booster is given to all pupils in year 9.


What happens if my child misses their vaccinations?
The school immunisation team will continue to offer vaccinations to all pupils who miss their vaccinations when they next visit the school, alternatively if they have no further visits planned you will be contacted with a link to book a community clinic appointment.

What if my child is electively home educated?
The team will make contact with you and offer the vaccinations in a community clinic.

Is it safe to have lots of vaccines on the same day?
Yes, it is safe for your child to receive multiple vaccines on the same day.

What happens if I cannot access the E Consent form?
You can access the consent forms using this link: E-Consent

Can boys of all ages get the HPV vaccination?
From September 2019 the HPV vaccination was offered to boys in year 8 as well as girls. Older boys were not eligible for the vaccination.

How long should there be between dose 1 and 2 of the HPV vaccination?
The 2nd vaccination will be given 12-24 months after the 1st vaccine.
 

What happens if my child does not have the HPV vaccination until they are older?
Anyone who has their 1st vaccine after their 15th birthday will need to have 3 vaccinations. The nurse will discuss this with you and them.

What happens if my child does not have their vaccinations before they leave school?
Your GP will be able to offer the vaccinations to your child. Whilst your child is school aged they need to access via the school immunisation team.

What are the side effects of having the vaccinations?
It is normal for your child to have a sore arm at the injection site, some redness or swelling may be evident, they may also get a headache. These symptoms should normally disappear after a day or two.
If you complete an E Consent form,  you will receive an email after the vaccination has been given with this information

Can my child get their vaccinations if I have not completed a consent form?
No, we will need a consent form to be completed before the session. This allows the staff to check your child’s immunisation history before they give the vaccines.

What happens if I cannot access the E Consent form?  
Select the form for the vaccination mentioned in your letter and only complete ONE form per child. You will know you have successfully submitted a form as you will see a large green tick on your screen and you will receive a confirmation message via email. If you need support to access and complete an electronic consent form please contact us.

I do not know my child’s NHS number

There is now a website where you can search for your child’s NHS number here, alternatively this can be viewed on a recent prescription or via their personal child health record (PCHR).

What if I complete a consent form and then change my mind about consent?

Please only submit one consent form per child and vaccine, if more than one form is submitted this results in duplicates and can result in a delay in vaccination due to mismatching of information.

We ask that you instead email the immunisation team with the below information:

  • Child’s full name
  • Child’s DOB
  • Child’s school
  • Vaccination
  • Consent status and reason for change

I am separated from the child’s other partner and they have a different view on vaccines to me, what do I do?

If both parents have parental responsibility and have both completed consent forms then one parent cannot overrule the other’s consent, even if considered in the best interest of the child. We recommend that you seek legal advise to discuss consent further. Until a mutual decision is made we will be unable to vaccinate your child.

Why is flu vaccination important for children?

Flu is unpredictable and the levels of flu activity vary each year. Some years are much worse than others. For instance, in 2014 to 2015, a bad flu year, there were 28,000 deaths. There are several strains of the flu virus that cause flu and virus mutations also occur.

Flu can be a serious illness that leads to complications like bronchitis and pneumonia, and painful ear infections in children. Children under the age of 5 years old have the highest rate of hospital admission of any age group.

The main purpose of the programme is to help protect children themselves and to stop them spreading flu to their families and the wider community, given the role that children have in transmission of the flu virus. Those most at risk from the complications of flu (such as pregnant women, older people, and those with underlying health conditions) are also offered flu vaccination, and it is also free for anyone aged 50 years old and over this year. 

Will it be a bad flu winter this year?

We don’t know whether it will be a bad flu winter this coming year, but we need to be prepared. The winter that we just had saw very low levels of flu activity, with measures in place to reduce COVID-19 (such as hand washing, mask wearing, social distancing and reduced international travel) helping to reduce flu transmission.

It’s hard to predict what will happen this coming winter but there may be a rebound in flu. If some of the measures to reduce COVID-19 remain in place, this will help reduce flu transmission too, as will uptake of flu vaccination which was at record high levels last year. However, there is also a risk that because we saw so little flu this last year, that there could be high levels of flu activity this coming winter because people will be mixing more and will also be more susceptible. 

Why is there such a large extension of the programme in secondary schools this year?

Vaccinating children is a cost-effective way of reducing transmission of flu and therefore reducing illness and death from flu. Because of concerns about COVID-19 still being in circulation this winter, and the pressure this may cause on the NHS, JCVI recommended that vaccinating secondary school-aged children this winter would be the most effective intervention to reduce flu and mitigate the impacts of the co-circulation of flu and COVID-19. This is a temporary measure for the 2021 to 2022 season and a decision on future seasons has not yet been made.

Schools also benefit from vaccinating their pupils. It helps to provide a healthy school environment by protecting pupils and, indirectly, the staff. Research has shown that the programme has reduced school absences, which is particularly important this flu season given the disruption to education during the COVID-19 pandemic. It also reduces the likelihood of flu outbreaks in schools, where symptoms may be confused with those of COVID-19. 

Will children and young people be offered COVID-19 vaccination this autumn?

No decisions have been made on whether children should be offered COVID-19 vaccinations. We will be guided by the advice of our experts on these issues including the independent JCVI. There will be further communications if a decision is made to offer COVID-19 vaccination in schools. 

Why are children offered a nasal spray?

Children are offered a nasal spray as it’s quick, painless and more effective in the programme than an injected vaccine. This is because it’s easier to administer and is considered better at reducing the spread of flu to others.

There will be a small number of children in your school not able to have the nasal spray vaccine because of pre-existing medical conditions or treatments. They will be offered an injected vaccine (either at school or through their GP practice).

All questions about vaccine suitability, and whether the child or young person can have it on the day if unwell, should be directed to the school age immunisation provider team. 

Is there porcine gelatine in the nasal spray?

The nasal spray contains very small amounts of porcine gelatine, which is used as a stabiliser in the vaccine. Some people may not accept the use of porcine gelatine in medical products. For these children, there is an alternative injectable vaccine available this year and parents should discuss the options with the school age immunisation provider team. 

When do the vaccinations need to be given?

Vaccinations are generally given in the autumn term before flu tends to circulate. As the flu virus can change each year, vaccination is required on an annual basis. 

Who will be giving the vaccine to the children?

The programme will be delivered by an NHS commissioned school age immunisation provider team which may include nurses, healthcare support workers, administrative staff, and other associated professionals who specialise in the delivery of school age vaccinations. The team will administer the vaccination according to nationally set standards. Staff will have appropriate qualifications and training, including safeguarding training. Depending on the advice that is current at the time, staff administering the vaccine may need to be wearing personal protective equipment. 

How will parent or guardian consent be obtained?

A consent form and information leaflet provided by the school age immunisation provider team will be used to seek parental consent. Parents will also be provided with a contact number for the school age immunisation provider team in case of any queries. Forms should be returned by the deadline agreed with the team. You may be asked to collect these forms from parents on behalf of the school age immunisation provider team or it may be done electronically.

Does GDPR change how consent needs to be obtained?

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) became UK law on 25 May 2018. No change is required to the way in which parental agreement is obtained. Schools should continue to work with the school age immunisation provider teams providing vaccinations in schools, who will provide information resources and parental consent forms. 

How will the school age immunisation provider team identify the children to be vaccinated?

The team will have a list of all children for whom consent has been received. They may ask the class teacher or assistant to confirm the identity of younger children in primary schools. 

Who decides whether a child receives the vaccination?

Parents or guardians with parental responsibility make this decision. In primary schools, only children for whom consent has been received will be vaccinated. It is therefore worth reminding parents of the importance of completing the consent form they are sent ahead of the scheduled vaccination sessions.

In secondary schools, some older children may be sufficiently mature to provide their own consent if their parents have not returned a consent form and they express a wish to have a vaccine on the day of the session. The team will speak to the child and will be responsible for assessing the appropriateness of administering the vaccine. This will include making every effort to contact the parent to seek their verbal consent and/or an assessment of the individual child’s capacity to self-consent, where appropriate. 

Can parents refuse to have their child vaccinated?

Yes. The vaccination is not mandatory. Parents will be asked to give their informed consent for the vaccination. Older children may express a wish to have the vaccine and have the capacity to provide informed consent themselves. Parents of older children should be encouraged to speak to their children ahead of time so that there is agreement on consent in advance of the vaccination session. 

What happens if a child is not present on the day when vaccination is offered in the school?

For any children absent on the vaccination day, there will be catch-up arrangements in place that the school age immunisation provider team will be able to share with the school. 

What should be done if a child becomes unwell in school after receiving the vaccination?

If the school age immunisation provider team is still on site, seek advice directly from them. If the school age immunisation provider team has left the site, manage the situation according to existing policies for pupil sickness in school and contact the school age immunisation provider team to ensure they are aware and can report any event related to the timing of administration of the vaccine. 

What if the vaccination session at my school is quite late in the autumn or winter?

For children who are at risk because they have an underlying health condition, it is very important that they get the flu vaccine for their own protection. Parents can ask their child’s GP to vaccinate them rather than wait for the school session if this is what they prefer.

See NHS.UK for further information. 

Can unvaccinated contacts catch flu from the nasal spray droplets or from vaccinated individuals ‘shedding’ the virus?

The nasal spray vaccine has a good safety record and unvaccinated contacts are not at risk of catching flu from the vaccine, either through being in the same room where the flu vaccine has been given or by being in contact with a recently vaccinated individual. Although vaccinated children are known to shed virus for a few days after vaccination, it 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 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.

Excluding children from school during the period when the vaccine is being offered, or in the following weeks, is not necessary. The only exception to this would be the tiny number of children who are extremely immunocompromised (for example those who have just had a bone marrow transplant). These children are normally advised not to attend school anyway because of the much higher risk of being in contact with other infections, including natural flu infection, that spread in schools.  

Are pre-school children being offered flu vaccination in general practice?

Yes, all children who are aged 2 and 3 years old on 31 August 2021 will be offered flu vaccination through general practice. 

Will young people in the sixth form or sixth form college be offered flu vaccination this year?

Any young person who is not in one of the eligible year groups for flu vaccination, but has an underlying health condition that puts them more at risk of flu, is eligible for a free flu vaccine from their GP practice or pharmacy.