MoH Addresses Flu Spray Fears

9th October 2018


The Medical Officer of Health is addressing alarm amongst some parents about the flu vaccine programme in Jersey schools.

It follows some mums and dads reportedly threatening to take their children out of school for up to a fortnight.

The Fluenz spray is being offered in schools and nurseries across the island.

Dr Susan Turnbull has written to headteachers to help them have ‘well-informed discussions’ with parents and allay their concerns.

“The concerns I have been hearing about, propagated and amplified on social media, are that the vaccine contains ‘live’ influenza virus, and could infect children instead of protecting them. It does not. Fluenz is a ‘live attenuated vaccine’, ‘attenuated’ meaning that processing has weakened the virus to render it incapable of actually causing influenza infection.

“Such vaccines work by prompting the immune system to produce its own antibodies, ready to prevent the vaccine-protected person from becoming infected by ‘real’ flu when the seasonal (winter) flu virus starts circulating. By contrast, real, un-attenuated ‘wild’ flu virus is very infectious, by respiratory and droplet, as well as contact spread, especially between children in a normal winter flu season.”

Dr Turnbull says there are no grounds to be concerned that there could be a risk of infection – or accidental vaccination – of people in the same environment as children receiving vaccine.

She says Jersey is lucky to have a funded programme to prevent children contracting flu because youngsters are at a higher risk of catching and spreading the virus.

“It would be a terrible shame if misinformation generating misplaced concern were to stop some of our children from receiving safe and effective protection from infection in the coming flu season.  If my own (now adult) children were still of school age, I would want them to be at the front of the queue for this and all other safe, effective vaccines (as indeed they were), and as my two small grandchildren currently are too.”

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