SCHOOL nurses across Hampshire are preparing to protect thousands of children against flu.

Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust will offer the flu vaccine to 80,000 children, including years reception and four for the first time.

The programme covers reception to year four in all infant, junior and primary schools in Hampshire, excluding those in Southampton, and children who are home educated.

Youngsters who are in pre-schools and aged two, three and four will be offered the vaccine through their GP.

Jane Levers, from the trust, said: “The flu vaccine for children is given as a single dose of nasal spray squirted up each nostril.

“The fact that it’s needle-free is clearly a big advantage for children, and the nasal spray has fewer side effects.

“It’s quick and painless and will mean your child is less likely to become ill if they come into contact with the flu virus.“Flu can be very unpleasant for children and for adults. Children have the same symptoms as adults – including fever, aching muscles, headache, stuffy nose, dry cough and sore throat lasting up to a week. Some children can develop complications such as chest or ear infections.”

Children or young people with long-term health conditions such as asthma and diabetes are more likely to have complications following flu.

These children and young people are all eligible for a flu vaccine. Parents are advised to speak to their GP or practice nurse for more information.