It’s that time again. With the summer holidays coming to an end and getting the kids ready for going back to school, you’re most likely checking you’ve got everything organised. Filling their pencil cases, buying new lunch boxes, making sure their school uniform fits - the list goes on.
But not many parents and carers realise that a crucial part of back-to-school planning is to check if their child’s immunisation record is up to date, and what free vaccines they can expect to be offered in school.
Getting your child vaccinated is the best thing you can do to help protect them against serious vaccine preventable diseases. This blog will explain which vaccines are offered to your child at school and when they can expect to get them.
Remember for vaccinations that take place in school, a letter, leaflet and consent form will be sent home for you to read, discuss with your child and sign. It’s really important you sign and return the consent form back to school by the deadline given, to ensure your child doesn’t miss out on their vaccinations.
Flu is an infectious virus and can be serious. Even healthy children can become seriously ill from it. That’s why the flu vaccine is being offered to all primary and secondary school pupils in Scotland this year, between September and December. Most school pupils will be offered the flu vaccine as a nasal (nose) spray. It’s quick and painless and will just feel like a tickle in their nose. Getting your child vaccinated against flu can help prevent them getting sick with flu and needing time off school.
Human papillomavirus (HPV)
HPV is a common virus that usually produces no symptoms. Most people will likely not even know they’re carrying the virus. However, carrying HPV makes you more likely to develop certain types of cancer. The HPV vaccine helps protect against HPV and it’s offered to every S1 pupil in Scotland. Pupils are usually offered the vaccine between the ages of 11-13 as this is when it works best, before your child is exposed to the virus.
Diphtheria, Tetanus and Polio (DTP)
Diphtheria, tetanus and polio are serious diseases that can all affect the nervous system. In Scotland, you might not hear about these diseases very much, but that’s the result of so many people being vaccinated over the years. You need a total of five doses of the vaccine to build up and keep your immunity, the first three are offered as babies. NHS Scotland recommends that all young people have their fifth and final dose in S3.
Meningitis ACWY (MenACWY)
Meningitis is an infection that can be very serious if not treated quickly. It can cause life threatening blood poisoning (septicaemia) and result in permanent damage to the brain or nerves. Most people will have had vaccines which help protect them against Meningitis B when they were much younger but it’s important that when offered, S3 pupils get the MenACWY vaccine to help provide longer-term protection. The MenACWY vaccine is sometimes given at the same time as the DTP vaccine.
Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR)
Measles, mumps and rubella are all serious diseases but like some others, we often don’t hear about them as vaccination uptake is high in Scotland, which means many people are protected. However, cases of measles are on the rise. That’s why it’s important to check your child has had two doses of the MMR vaccine before going back to school. When your child is in secondary school, their MMR vaccine status will be checked by NHS Scotland. If they haven’t had both doses of the vaccine, it means they’re still at risk. It’s important to make sure your child has all the doses they are eligible for, the good news is it’s never too late to get your child vaccinated and there may well be another opportunity for this at school.
So, whether your child is starting school for the first time or returning after the summer holidays, it’s very important to make sure you’ve done your homework and made sure you are both aware of what vaccines they’ll be offered to protect against serious diseases.
For more information on vaccines for young people, visit: www.nhsinform.scot/vaccinesforyoungpeople