School pupils in South Yorkshire will be among 700,000 youngsters across the country to receive a free flu vaccine this winter.
Students at secondary schools in Sheffield, Rotherham and Doncaster are getting the vaccine as part of a pilot programme by Public Health England.
The trial, now in its second year, will see most children given the medication as a nasal spray rather than an injection.
It aims to reduce the spread of flu and protect pupils’ younger brothers and sisters, grandparents and others at risk of catching the illness.
Dr Paul Cosford, medical director at Public Health England, said: “It’s important that children take up the offer of a vaccination if offered to them later in the year.
“Every year, hundreds of thousands of people may see their GP and tens of thousands may be hospitalised because of flu each winter.
“The pilots are helping us to understand the best way to implement the programme nationally.”
The existing flu vaccine scheme - covering pregnant women, people aged over 65 and at-risk groups - is also being extended this autumn to all children aged two, three and four.
Dr Mary Ramsay, PHE’s head of immunisation, said last year’s pilot in primary schools saw a high rate of uptake.
“Early findings from the pilots suggest a likely impact of vaccinating on levels of flu circulating more widely,” she said.
“The high uptake levels achieved in most pilot areas last year using school-based delivery demonstrate the feasibility of achieving high coverage levels. However, it is important that we continue this on-going close monitoring of the programme.”
Dr Ramsay added: “Local NHS screening and immunisation teams are now in the process of making arrangements to ensure they can offer the vaccinations.”