Thousands of two and three-year-olds in Kent have not been immunised against flu, despite being eligible for a free vaccine.
Almost 8,000 eligible toddlers have had the child-friendly quick, painless nasal spray which means more than 27,000 are not protected.
The youngsters can visit their GP for the vaccination; while school immunisation teams are visiting schools for children in reception and years one, two, three and four. 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 the flu virus and get them vaccinated now. Children can become very poorly if they catch flu and we know this can affect 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 to take up this free NHS offer.
“Protecting your child can stop flu spreading to other children and the family, especially babies and grandparents, who may be at higher risk from flu.”
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 eight year olds).
This year the flu vaccine is being offered to:
- children aged two and three years.
- children in school years Reception, 1,2, 3 and 4
- all other children with a health condition that puts them at greater risk from flu
Many GP practices hold large flu vaccination clinics. Find out the dates and times by checking on practice websites or by telephoning the practice.
Participating community pharmacies also offer a service for patients who are eligible for a FREE flu vaccine. If you have the vaccination in a pharmacy they will take your details and let your GP practice know that you have had the vaccination.
The data covers the period September 1 2017 to October 31 2017 and is available at:
There are 35,107 eligible two and three year olds in Kent. As of 31 October 7,920 have had the vaccine – 22.6% of the eligible population.