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06 November 2018

Parents urged to ensure children in Cumbria get flu vaccine

Flu season is nearly upon us and people in Cumbria who are the most vulnerable to flu are being urged to get their free flu vaccination.

The Stay Well This Winter campaign from Public Health England is now underway and aims to help the most vulnerable people in the county prepare for winter and avoid having to visit hospital due to common winter illnesses. It will target:

  • all children aged two to nine
  • those aged six months to under 65 years in clinical risk groups
  • pregnant women
  • those aged 65 years and over
  • those in long-stay residential care homes
  • carers

Colin Cox, Cumbria County Council’s Director of Public Health, said:

“Flu can be nasty for little children and they can be super-spreaders so if they get it, they are likely to pass on to more vulnerable older family members.

“Children who get flu have the same symptoms as adults - including fever, chills, aching muscles, headache, stuffy nose, dry cough and sore throat. Some children develop a very high fever or complications of flu, such as bronchitis or pneumonia and may need hospital treatment.

“The free flu vaccine will help protect your child from flu and also reduce the chance of it spreading on to others.”

The children’s vaccination programme for 2018/19 will be delivered as follows:

  • Children aged 2-3 years-old (will be vaccinated by general practice)
  • 4-9 year-olds (those in reception class and school years 1-5, will be vaccinated in school)

NHS North Cumbria Clinical Commissioning Group’s Clinical Lead for Children Dr Amanda Boardman said:

“It can be a stressful time for all the family when a child is poorly so it makes sense to take easy steps, like the free children’s flu vaccine, to help prevent your little one from getting poorly.

“There is also a handy NHS Child Health App available full of advice and guidance from trusted sources with details of many childhood illnesses.

“It helps you to recognise when your child is unwell offering handy advice and where to seek further treatment, including information pointing to the relevant local services.

“It’s a free app and you just need to search for ‘NHS child health’ on your mobile device and it covers from 0-5 years.”

Children under five years are more likely to be hospitalised due to flu than any other age group. The vaccine offers important protection not only to the child, but also prevents the child passing the virus on to their family and the wider community, particularly protecting those at risk. For children with long-term health conditions such as diabetes, asthma, heart disease or lung disease, getting flu can be very serious as they are more at risk of developing serious complications.

For most children, the flu vaccine is not usually an injection, just a quick and easy nasal spray. If you have a child who is of the eligible age, make sure you sign the consent form allowing them to have the flu vaccine at school. If parents of children aged 2 and 3 haven't heard from their GP surgery by now they are advised to contact them directly to make an appointment.

The nasal spray flu vaccine isn’t suitable for a small number of children, including those with a severely weakened immune system. These children are in the clinical high-risk group for flu and so are eligible to have the injectable flu vaccine instead - advice should be sought from the healthcare professional offering vaccination.

Visit nhs.uk/staywell for more details on how to help you and your family stay well this winter.

Flu season is nearly upon us and people in Cumbria who are the most vulnerable to flu are being urged to get their free flu vaccination.