Flu vaccines offered to more children this year
This year, the NHS has extended its programme of flu vaccinations to cover children up to school year three. This means in London alone, more than 707,600 children aged between two and seven will be offered vaccination. Local GPs are encouraging residents to stay well this winter and get vaccinated against flu, particularly if you are vulnerable (eg elderly, pregnant, or living with a long term condition).
"Flu is a very infectious disease with symptoms that can come on very quickly, and is most prevalent during the colder months" explains Dr Jonty Heaversedge, local GP and Chair of NHS Southwark Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).
"Flu is much worse than a cold, and can be particularly serious for certain groups of people. It can sometimes develop into more serious conditions, such as pneumonia or bronchitis, or it can make existing conditions worse."
There are a number of ways you can protect yourself against flu; one of the most effective is to make sure you get a free flu vaccination from your GP if you are particularly vulnerable. Others who are not eligible for a vaccination on the NHS can get one from a local pharmacist for a small charge.
Dr Heaversedge said: "We all have to carry on doing every day activities, such as going to work, school and shopping, so it's impossible to completely avoid exposing ourselves to diseases such as flu. However, by making sure you get the flu jab, you can increase your resistance to the disease and the ability to fight back."
Who is eligible for a free flu vaccination?
Talk to your GP if you:
- are pregnant;
- have a long-term condition;
- have had a stroke or a transient ischaemic attack (TIA);
- are seriously overweight;
- are a carer of an older or disabled person;
- live in a residential or nursing home;
- are over 65 years of age.
You should also ensure your child is vaccinated against flu if they are under five years of age. Flu can be horrible for little children, and if they get it, they can spread it around the whole family.
Children aged two, three and four can get the free nasal spray vaccination from their GP. Parents of children in school years one, two and three are asked to give permission for their child to receive it at school.
For further information, visit http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/vaccinations/Pages/flu-influenza-vaccine.aspx