Almost 31,000 children in the Highlands will be offered the flu vaccine this year as part of a new immunisation programme.
Every child between two and 11 will have the opportunity to be protected from the flu virus as well as reducing the risk of spreading it to others.
Children are three times more likely than adults to catch the disease, say NHS Scotland, who are encouraging parents to make sure their child gets the vaccine.
In the Highlands, 8,328 pre-school, and 22,496 primary school, children are eligible for the vaccination this year, prior to the programme being extended to include young people up to 17-years-old, throughout Scotland.
It is estimated that, nationally, this will prevent 200 deaths a year, and up to 1,100 hospital stays, with a campaign being launched to let parents know about the scheme.
The vaccine will be given as a nasal spray, following last year’s successful pilot where the same vaccine was safely administered to around 130,000 children in Scotland.
Dr Abhayadevi Tissington, Immunisation Co-ordinator for NHS Highland, said: “The vaccination programme being rolled out in the Highlands will help protect children and stop the spread of nasty flu viruses, which can lead to serious health problems.
“It is a simple, pain-free process which involves a tiny amount of the vaccine being sprayed into each nostril, which is then quickly absorbed.
“Parents of primary school children should look out for the information on the flu vaccine when it comes home in school bags.
“If your child is aged between two and five, and not yet at primary school, remember to make an appointment with your GP from October.”
Dr Nicola Steedman, the Scottish Government’s senior medical officer, added: “Flu can be very unpleasant for children, and in some cases it can develop into more serious health complications such as bronchitis, pneumonia and middle ear infection.
“Parents can help safeguard their child against flu by taking up the offer of this free vaccine. It’s safe, quick and painless, and offers protection against the types of virus that are most likely to be circulating this winter.”
Visit immunisationscotland.org.uk/childflu or call 0800 22 44 88 for more information.