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Schools to join flu research project

Schools will be included in the annual flu survey to develop a better understanding of how the illness spreads. 

For the first time, schools will be taking part in the Flusurvey project, which collects data directly from the general public, rather than via hospitals or GPs.

The survey coincides with the launch of the national flu vaccination programme for children. 

Children aged two and three on the 1st September this year will be offered the Fluenz immunisation via a nasal spray. 

And local pilot schemes will see some primary school children up to the age of 11 offered flu vaccination. 

The Flusurvey team will be working with the British Science Association to link up with schools for the 2013-14 flu season to monitor the impact of the virus.

They will also be looking to see what role exercise and diet might play in keeping flu at bay.

In 2012-13, the highest rates of infection were reported in the under-18 age group.

Head of the project Dr Alma Adler told the BBC: "Last year we found that taking public transport does not increase your risk of catching flu and we discovered that 'man flu' didn't really exist - in fact women were slightly more likely to report feeling worse when they have flu than men.

"This year we're keen to find out more about children because they are the 'key spreaders' of flu."