Fears over flu vaccine delay up to late December for Edinburgh school children

Children as young as five will have to wait until days before Christmas before getting the vaccine.
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Thousands of children in the Capital due to get flu vaccines could be forced to wait until just before Christmas, after clinics had to be rescheduled following school strikes.

At least nine schools including primary and secondary affected by the strike action in September have had to put back the clinics up to two months, sparking fears that it’s ‘too late in the season’ putting children at risk of the virus.

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Bosses at NHS Lothian said all schools were ‘promptly offered’ alternative dates before the Christmas break.

Photo by Ian Forsyth/Getty ImagesPhoto by Ian Forsyth/Getty Images
Photo by Ian Forsyth/Getty Images

But parents and MSPs have voiced fears about the delays and called for dates to be brought forward.

A Dad in Leith whose son goes to Holy Cross Primary school said: “This is a real worry. My son won’t get the vaccine until the 20 December. By that time it’s too late in the winter season, months after it was due in the first place. The whole point of it is to protect children early before the virus peaks. Covid is still going about too. It just feels like my son is being put at risk. Chemists don’t do flu vaccines for under 16s. We can try our GP but they are heaving just now so I don’t know if they will agree to do it if there’s one going to be provided by the school. And with it being late in December if he gets a reaction, he could end up not being well for Christmas. The date needs to be brought forward.”

The life-saving vaccination programme to protect the country against deadly viruses ahead of winter has started across Scotland, amid concerns about a ‘twindemic’ after a new covid variant has emerged. Down south the rollout has been stepped up early, amid warnings of a ‘twindemic’ as scientists have identified a new variant of covid.

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Lothian MSP Miles Briggs said: “It is extremely concerning that the school flu vaccination programme in Edinburgh has been delayed and will see some pupils not receive the vaccine until late into December.

"It is understandable that parents have expressed concern at the delay to the programme being delivered. The programme's effectiveness relies directly on being delivered before winter and new strains of flu developing and spreading in the community and so this delay could have implications for our health service.”

NHS Lothian chiefs said children who are at significant clinical risk are prioritised and invited forward separately so should not be affected by rescheduling.

Pat Wynne, Nurse Director for Primary and Community Care, NHS Lothian, said:

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“Flu clinics in schools are planned well in advance and our teams work diligently throughout the term to vaccinate the 127,000 schoolchildren across Lothian.

“Unfortunately, December is the earliest we were able to reschedule clinics which were cancelled due to strike action without impacting other schools.

“Because of this, we have extended flu clinics in schools until the week that term ends to deliver as many vaccines as we can before Christmas.”

The health board said they are in communication with Public Health Scotland and the revised schedule is ‘in line with their clinical ask and the rest of the country’.