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Flu Vaccination this winter

swtw

South Asian Parents urged to vaccinate their children against flu this winter

Public Health England (PHE) is encouraging parents and carers to help protect their children from flu this winter, as the largest ever programme vaccinating children against it gets underway. This year, the vaccine is being offered to 2 – 4 year-olds, those in school years 1 and 2, and is being extended to school year 3, helping protect more than 4 million children against flu – 600,000 more than last year.

But with a survey of parents of eligible children showing nearly 4 out of 10 (37%) are unaware of the nasal spray, a campaign has been launched to raise awareness of flu vaccination among parents and at risk groups, such as pregnant women. Although 55% of parents understand the need for their children to be vaccinated every year, nearly 1 in 8 (13%) have either never given vaccination any thought, or report that the main thing putting them off vaccination is that their children seldom get flu (12%).

Nearly a third of parents (29%) think flu is just a severe cold in children when it can be a more unpleasant and serious illness. Children have the same symptoms as adults including fever, chills, aching muscles, headaches and a sore throat. More than one in three parents (35%) think children recover from flu in a couple of days. In fact, sometimes children need up to a week in bed before they are on the mend. Some children develop a very high fever or complications from flu, such bronchitis or pneumonia. Children in the under 5 age group are more at risk of being admitted to hospital due to flu than any other age group. 

Ensuring that young ones are vaccinated can reduce the spread of this infectious disease amongst the whole family, protecting those who are vulnerable like grandparents. It also helps protect those most at risk in the community, such as people with long-term health conditions. Flu can be particularly dangerous for those with long-term health conditions. These include: 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. It is estimated that several million people get flu each winter, with it leading to more than 2,000 NHS intensive care admissions across the UK last year.

The free flu vaccine is also available for pregnant women. Research shows that around four in 10 (42%) of pregnant women got their jab last year. Pregnancy naturally weakens the body’s immune system, and as a result it can cause serious complications for both mother and her unborn baby. Despite this, a fifth of pregnant women (19%) who didn’t get vaccinated said they didn’t get the free flu jab because they thought, mistakenly, it might harm their baby.

Dr Chintal Patel, The Belgravia Surgery, comments:

“Flu can be much more dangerous for children than parents realise. Data shows that children under the age of 5 are most likely to be admitted to hospital for flu compared to any other age group.

“The single best way to protect your child is to get them vaccinated. The nasal spray is a quick and easy way to help prevent young children catching flu.

“I would urge all South Asian parents with children aged 2-7 to get their children vaccinated.”

Dr Saral Anand, Wellington Health Centre, said: 

“Let’s be clear on the facts, flu can cause serious complications for pregnant women and their babies. The safest way to help protect them both is the flu vaccine.

“I fully support this campaign and would encourage all South Asian pregnant women and parents with children aged 2 – 7 to get the flu vaccine. This will help protect them and reduce the risk of spreading the flu to others.”

Don’t put off the flu vaccination – it’s free because you need it

The current Stay Well This Winter (SWTW) campaign encourages vulnerable people including people with long-term health conditions and anyone aged over 65 to get the free flu jab.

Flu is a highly infectious disease and can lead to serious complications if you have a long-term health condition, for example: chronic respiratory disease, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, bronchitis, or emphysema; diabetes; heart, kidney or liver disease; chronic neurological diseases, like multiple sclerosis or cerebral palsy; or have suffered a stroke. Flu on top of health conditions like these can easily develop into something very serious and you could end up in hospital.  People with these and other long-term health conditions are eligible for a free flu jab through their GP or pharmacist.

The free vaccine is also offered to other groups at particular risk of infection and complications, anyone aged 65 and over; residents of long-stay care homes; carers and pregnant women. Children aged 2, 3 and 4 and in school years 1, 2 and 3 are also being offered a free flu vaccination.

Those eligible should contact their GP or pharmacist as appropriate, to arrange vaccination.

And if you are the main carer of an older or disabled person you may be eligible for the free flu vaccine, speak to your GP.

Last year 12.4 million people were vaccinated overall in England and 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.

The NHS and social care workforce is also being targeted to help protect them, and reduce the risk of frontline workers spreading infection to patients, particularly those in vulnerable groups.

If you are eligible for the flu vaccine get it now – it’s free because you need it. Contact your GP or pharmacist to the get the flu jab.

Dr Mathi Woodhouse, GP at Pinn Medical Centre, said:

“Vaccination is the best protection we have against flu, which can cause severe illness and even death among those most at-risk. This group includes people with a long-term health condition, older people and pregnant women.

“I would encourage everyone who is eligible to get vaccinated to help protect themselves and those around them. It is important to get vaccinated every year. Flu is unpredictable and previous years’ vaccinations may not protect you against the types of flu virus circulating this year.”

Mr Jega Jegathees, has the flu vaccination every year, said:

“I’ve had asthma since I was a child and I’m aware that with my condition, getting the flu could have serious consequences for me. My GP advised that I should have the flu vaccination.”

 

“This will be the fourth year in a row that I’ll be taking up the free vaccine. It’s a quick trip to the GP surgery which means that I’m vaccinated and can avoid getting the flu and taking time out of my busy schedule to recover.  I’d advise everybody who’s eligible for it to get it.”

 

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

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