More children to be offered free flu vaccination

SCHOOL pupils in year 3 are now to be included in this year’s flu vaccination programme as part of the Stay Well This Winter campaign.
The school vaccination programme is underway, with parents of children in years 1, 2 and 3 being asked permission for their child to get the free nasal spray vaccination at school. Children aged 2, 3 and 4 can get the vaccination from their GP.
As well as offering protection to these children aged 2 to 7 years, the programme will help reduce the spread of this infection to the most vulnerable in the community, particularly younger children, the elderly and those with long-term conditions.
It is estimated that several million people get flu each winter, leading to more than 2,000 NHS intensive care admissions across the UK last year. Reducing transmission by children can potentially help cut the number of GP appointments and unplanned admissions for children and adults, reducing winter pressures on the NHS.
The programme will be extended gradually to older age groups in primary school in future years.
Flu can be particularly dangerous for those with long-term health conditions, for example: chronic respiratory disease, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, bronchitis or emphysema; heart, kidney or liver disease; chronic neurological diseases, like multiple sclerosis or cerebral palsy; and diabetes.
People with these conditions are eligible for vaccination because if they get flu, it is more likely to develop into a serious illness, which could result in admission to hospital.
The campaign is also encouraging pregnant women to get vaccinated against flu. Pregnancy naturally weakens the body’s immune system, and so flu can cause serious complications for the mother and her baby.
The free vaccine is also offered to other groups at particular risk of infection and complications, or liable to spread it to those at risk: anyone aged 65 and over; residents of long-stay care homes; and carers as well as the NHS and social car workforce.
Those eligible should contact their GP, pharmacist or midwife, as appropriate, to arrange vaccination.
Chief Medical Officer, Professor Dame Sally Davies, said: “Flu can be much more dangerous for children than many parents realise, and when children get flu, they tend to spread it around the whole family. Every year, thousands of children have flu and it is not uncommon for them to be admitted to hospital.
“The single best way to help protect your children, and the rest of the family, is to get them vaccinated. For most, it is just a quick, easy and painless nasal spray.”
 You can find out more about the Stay Well this Winter campaign and what we are doing locally by visiting Tameside and Glossop CCG's Stay Well pages
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