Parents with young children are being urged to get them vaccinated against the misery of flu as winter approaches.
Children who were aged two, three and four on or before 31 August 2016 will be eligible for a free flu vaccination and South East Staffordshire and Seisdon Peninsula Clinical Commissioning Group is calling on parents and guardians to look out for a letter offering their child the opportunity.
Heather Johnstone, Chief Nurse at the CCG, said: “We know coughs and colds are already starting to spread which means flu season is right behind. Children aged two, three and four are more vulnerable and can be hit hard by flu. In addition, they spread infections easily. They’re not bothered about covering their mouth when they cough, sneeze, or keeping their hands clean. And if they’re around family members of friends that are over 65 or who have a health condition, they’re putting them at risk too.
“The vaccination is the best protection against what is an unpredictable virus. It can cause severe illness and can even be fatal in some cases. It’s also vital that children get vaccinated every year, vaccines are not for life and just as the virus changes each year so does the vaccine – it will protect your child and those they come into contact with.
“So we’re asking that parents and carers pay attention to the letter they will be receiving.”
In addition, children in schools years one, two and - new for this year - three will be given the free nasal spray at school. And children with long-term health conditions up to the age of 17 are eligible to receive a free flu vaccination at their GP practice or local pharmacy.
Heather Johnstone added: “We understand being a parent keeps people busy but this five-minute job is really important for the health of your child and your loved ones. It really isn’t worth the risk so please get your child protected.”
If you haven’t received a letter contact your child’s school or your GP practice.
Note to editors
Flu vaccinations are currently offered free of charge to the following ‘at-risk’ groups:
- All those aged two, three, and four years (but not five years or older) on 31 August 2016 (i.e. date of birth on or after 1 September 2011 and on or before 31 August 2014) through general practice
- All children of appropriate age for school years 1, 2 and 3 age through locally commissioned arrangements
- All primary school-aged children in former primary school pilot areas
- People aged from six months to less than 65 years of age with a serious medical condition such as:
• chronic (long-term) respiratory disease, such as severe asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or bronchitis.
• chronic heart disease, such as heart failure
• chronic kidney disease at stage three, four or five
• chronic liver disease
• chronic neurological disease, such as Parkinson’s disease or motor neurone disease, or learning disability
• splenic dysfunction
• a weakened immune system due to disease (such as HIV/AIDS) or treatment (such as cancer treatment)
- All pregnant women (including those women who become pregnant during the flu season)
- People aged 65 years or over (including those becoming age 65 years by 31 March 2017)
- People living in long-stay residential care homes or other long-stay care facilities where rapid spread is likely to follow introduction of infection and cause high morbidity and mortality. This does not include, for instance, prisons, young offender institutions, or university halls of residence
- People who are in receipt of a carer’s allowance, or those who are the main carer of an older or disabled person whose welfare may be at risk if the carer falls ill
- Consideration should also be given to the vaccination of household contacts of immunocompromised individuals, specifically individuals who expect to share living accommodation on most days over the winter and, therefore, for whom continuing close contact is unavoidable
The list above is not exhaustive, and the healthcare practitioner should apply clinical judgement to take into account the risk of flu exacerbating any underlying disease that a patient may have, as well as the risk of serious illness from flu itself. Flu vaccine should be offered in such cases even if the individual is not in the clinical risk groups specified above.
- Public Health England: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/flu-plan-winter-2016-to-2017
- Flu Annual Report 2015/16: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/annual-flu-reports