Parents urged to protect their child with free flu vaccination as winter sets in
As winter sets in and coughs and colds begin to circulate, parents and carers across Shropshire are being advised to check their child is eligible for the flu vaccine.
The reminder is being issued by Shropshire Council’s public health team and Shropshire Clinical Commissioning Group, as part of this year’s national Help Us Help You Stay Well this Winter campaign.
For most children, the flu vaccine is not usually an injection, just a quick and easy nasal spray. Children aged 2 and 3 receive the vaccine through their GP and children in reception and school Years 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 receive it in school, meaning all children aged 2-9 can be vaccinated.
If you have a child in school who is of the eligible age (reception to Year 5), make sure you sign the consent form allowing them to have the flu vaccine at school. Even if your child was immunised against flu last year, it is important to get the vaccine again this year as viruses can change over time.
Flu can be horrible for little children so it is important to protect them from becoming unwell. The flu vaccine will help protect your child from flu and also reduce the chance of it spreading on to others. Children are also ‘super-spreaders’ of flu and vaccinating them can protect more vulnerable members of the family and the wider community.
Children who get flu have the same symptoms as adults – including fever, chills, aching muscles, headache, stuffy nose, dry cough and sore throat. Some children develop a very high fever or complications of flu such bronchitis or pneumonia and may need hospital treatment.
Lee Chapman, Shropshire Council’s Cabinet member for adult services, health and social housing, said:
“Flu can be a very unpleasant illness in children, which can often last several days.
“If you have children aged 2 to 9, don’t put off taking them for their free flu vaccination, go and get them vaccinated now, and look forward to a happy and healthy flu free Christmas.”
Dr Julian Povey, Chair of NHS Shropshire Clinical Commissioning Group, and Dr Jo Leahy, Chair of NHS Telford & Wrekin Clinical Commissioning Group, said:
“The children’s flu vaccine is the best possible protection against the flu virus. Offered as a yearly nasal spray, it is quick, painless, and works even better in children than the injected flu vaccine with fewer side effects.
“Vaccinating children also helps to protect other members of the community who are vulnerable to flu – for example, older people, babies, and pregnant women.”
Laura, mum of Lily Pell aged two, said:
“The nasal spray was very quick, Lily hardly noticed as she was too interested in wanting her sticker. She got more upset when she had to leave as she wanted to stay to get more stickers!”
Flu can be very serious in children and adults with an underlying health condition. Make sure you get your free vaccine before the end of November 2018. Visit your GP or local pharmacy today to find out more.
For more information about the flu vaccination visit www.nhs.uk/fluvaccine
You can also read the Protecting your child against flu leaflet.
In areas where the flu vaccine was piloted amongst primary school age children, there was a 94% reduction in GP influenza-like illness consultation rates; 74% reduction in A&E respiratory attendances, and 93% reduction in hospital admissions due to confirmed influenza in primary school children.
In the pilot areas, GP ‘influenza like illness’ consultation rates for adults were 59% lower compared to non-pilot areas. This means that vaccinating children not only directly protects them, it also indirectly protects adults by reducing the spread of the virus in the community.