With nursery and school terms well underway parents and guardians of children aged two to seven, are being encouraged to get the free flu vaccination for their children.
This year children aged two, three and four, or in school years one, two and three, are all eligible for the flu vaccination on the NHS. The child-friendly nasal spray means children can avoid having an injection and instead have a quick, painless, squirt into each nostril.
Children aged two to four years old can visit their GP for the nasal spray vaccination; while school nurses are running clinics for children in years one, two and three. Children of all ages with a health condition that puts them at greater risk of flu are also eligible for the flu vaccine.
Flu can be a very unpleasant illness in children causing fever, stuffy nose dry cough, sore throat, aching muscles and joints and extreme tiredness. This can often last several days. Some children can get a very high fever, sometimes without the usual flu symptoms, and may need to go to hospital for treatment. Serious complications of flu include a painful ear infection, acute bronchitis and pneumonia.
Dr John Rodriguez, Public Health Screening and Immunisation lead for Kent and Medway said: “It is important we protect young children from flu and get them vaccinated now. Children can become very poorly if they catch flu and are good at spreading it to others too. We know an ill child affects the wider family, as parents or carers may have to take time off work to look after them. The nasal spray is safe and tailored each year to specific flu viruses – so please do take up this free NHS offer.”
Kent County Council Director of Public Health, Andrew Scott-Clark said: “It is particularly important that we reach parents and make sure children are protected as they can easily spread the illness among their friends and family. In the worst cases, seasonal flu can result in a stay in hospital, and it can even be fatal. Younger girls and boys can get the vaccine as a nasal spray rather than a jab but having one can make a huge difference.”
It is important to get children vaccinated even if they had the flu vaccination last year. The flu vaccine provides protection against the strains of flu that are likely to circulate this year and which may be different from last year. So make sure you visit your GP when offered the nasal spray vaccine (for pre-school children) or complete the consent form so your child can have the vaccine at school (for four to seven year olds).
This year the flu vaccine is being offered to:
- children aged two, three and four years ie born between 1 September 2011 and 31 August 2014
- children in school years 1,2 and 3 ie born between 1 September 2008 and 31 August 2011
- children with a health condition that puts them at greater risk from flu