Doctors in Kent and Medway continue to urge parents and guardians to make sure their children have a flu vaccine.
This year, two and three-year-olds – and all primary school children – are being offered the flu vaccination on the NHS.
For most children, the vaccine is a quick nasal spray, which is easy, quick, painless to administer.
Dr Kate Langford, Chief Medical Officer at NHS Kent and Medway, said: “It is important that parents make sure children are protected as they can easily spread the illness among their friends and family.
“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 last several days or more.
“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 lung disease including pneumonia and bronchiolitis.
“Parents of children aged two and three should have received a letter from their GP practice with details on how to get the vaccine. Please do take up this offer. If all eligible children are vaccinated, we could significantly reduce the number of people getting flu in the wider community.”
Parents should have received an invitation for their two and three-year-olds to have the flu vaccination at their GP practice before winter sets in. Any family who hasn’t heard from their GP by now, should contact their practice directly to make an appointment for their toddlers.
Vaccination sessions for primary school children were held in schools by the School Aged Immunisation Service (run by Kent Community Health NHS Foundation Trust) during the autumn term. Children who do not attend school have been invited to an alternative local venue.
Primary school-aged children who are in clinical risk groups may have been offered their flu vaccination in school or by their GP practice.
Kent County Council Director of Public Health, Dr Anjan Ghosh 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.”
The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) recently published analysis suggesting the nasal spray vaccine that offers protection to children against flu may also help reduce the rate of group A strep infections. Read the full update here: www.gov.uk/government/news/nasal-flu-vaccine-may-help-reduce-cases-of-group-a-strep
You can find more details about flu vaccinations on the NHS website here: www.nhs.uk/flu
You can also find information about winter health advice at www.kent.gov.uk/winterhealth