Protect your little ones from flu this winter

As December draws that little bit closer so does the Christmas cheer, and with all the excitement the more everyday things get lost or forgotten.

So before the inevitable coughs, colds and flu really get a grip, Stafford and Stone GPs are urging parents of children between the ages of two and seven to make sure their little ones have their flu nasal vaccination as soon as possible to ensure they are protected for the winter months.

It is simple and quick – a single dose of nasal spray squirted up each nostril. Not only is it needle-free, it works even better than the injected flu vaccine with fewer side effects.

The flu vaccine will both protect your child and those they come into contact with against the flu virus.

For five-seven year olds, the vaccination will be available in some schools, some pharmacies and some GP practices.

It is anticipated that the flu vaccine for children will eventually prevent at least 2,0001 deaths from flu in the general population and lead to 11,000 fewer hospitalisations.

Dr Paddy Hannigan, Stafford GP and Chair of Stafford and Surrounds Clinical Commissioning Group explained: “Flu can be very unpleasant for children.  Some children develop a very high fever or complications such as bronchitis, pneumonia and painful middle ear infection.  They may need hospital treatment, and in serious cases a child may die from flu.”

Dr Hannigan added: “Children are great at spreading flu because they tend to sneeze everywhere and don't use tissues properly or wash their hands.  Vaccinating them helps protect the vulnerable groups in society, including babies, older people, pregnant women and people with serious long-term illnesses, even one that is well managed.”

Throughout the last decade, there has generally been a good match between the strains of flu in the vaccine and those that subsequently circulate, so it’s important that those that need it have a vaccination every year.

If you are a parent of children aged two, three and four you will be contacted by your GP about getting your child vaccinated before the winter.  If you don’t hear anything or you want more information about when and how your child will be vaccinated against flu, talk to your GP or practice nurse.

Children in school years one and two will be offered flu vaccination as part of the NHS childhood vaccination programme.

For more information about vaccines and the alternatives that may be available, visit: https://www.gov.uk

For more information about winter illness, visit: www.nhs.uk/staywell

Flu vaccinations are currently offered free of charge to the following ‘at-risk’ groups:

  • those aged 65 years and over
  • those aged six months to under 65 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
    • diabetes
    • splenic dysfunction
    • a weakened immune system due to disease (such as HIV/ AIDS) or treatment (such as cancer treatment)
  • pregnant women
  • all two, three and four-year-olds (on 31 August 2015)
  • all children of school years 1 and 2 age:
  • Year 1 school age: 5 year olds, rising to 6 year olds (i.e. date of birth between 1st September 2009 and on or before 31st August 2010)
  • Year 2 school age: 6 year olds, rising to 7 years olds (i.e. date of birth between 1st September 2008 and on or before 31st August 2009)
  • primary school-aged children in areas that previously participated in primary school pilots in 2014/15
  • those in long-stay residential care homes
  • carers

For more information, visit: NHS Choices

 

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