Primary school pupils in the isles are being offered the flu vaccine again this year, a repeat of last year.
The childhood vaccination programme will get under way for five to 11-year-olds across Scotland in the new term, and around 400,000 primary pupils will be offered the free vaccination.
The programme will be open to all two to 11-year-olds, and parents of pre-school children and those not in school will be encouraged to make an appointment with their GP from October to get their child vaccinated.
The vaccination by nasal spray, which is suitable for most children, is quick to administer, easily absorbed and pain free. However, those who cannot have the nasal spray may be offered an alternative injectable version.
With children being up to three times more likely to be ill with flu than adults, health chiefs say it is important to protect them from the dangers of flu and reduce the risk of the illness being spread to others.
The Scottish childhood flu immunisation programme, which will offer the vaccine being to approximately 550,000 youngsters across the country, is expected to eventually prevent an estimated additional 200 deaths per year and 1,100 hospitalisations.
After being introduced last year, it resulted in more people than ever before receiving the best defence against flu.
In the 2014/15 flu season, close to 1.5 million Scots were vaccinated against flu.
Acting deputy chief medical officer Nicola Steedman said: “Flu can hit children hard, which is why we’re appealing to parents who have children of primary school age to look out for the flu vaccination consent forms which will be arriving home in school bags from the start of the new term.
“Even healthy children can become seriously ill from flu and the vaccine not only helps protect them, but it also helps stop the spread of the virus.”
“I’d like to reassure parents that the vaccine has an excellent safety record and was administered to more than a quarter of a million children in Scotland last year. Even if your child received the vaccination last year, it’s important they get it again this autumn as flu viruses can change over time.”
Dr Steedman said the programme would protect more people than ever before from flu which is why it was important that parents who wanted to protect their child returned the consent forms.
She added: “We want all children in Scotland to be covered and the vaccine simply offers the best defence against flu this winter.”
Find out more about the flu vaccine for children at immunisationscotland.org.uk/childflu or call the NHS inform helpline on 0800 22 44 88.