As flu season approaches, parents and guardians across Buckinghamshire are being urged to make sure all eligible children are protected against the virus by taking up the offer of a free flu vaccination. For most children the vaccine is given by a quick, painless spray up the nose.
With coronavirus still circulating, getting a flu vaccination is more important than ever this winter.
This year, children aged two and three, all primary school children, and children in school year 7 will be offered a free flu vaccination by the NHS.
Flu can be a very unpleasant illness in children, causing fever, stuffy nose, dry cough, sore throat, aching muscles and joints, and extreme tiredness. This can last several days or more.
Some children can get a very high fever, sometimes without the usual flu symptoms, and may need to go to hospital for treatment. Serious complications of flu include a painful ear infection, acute bronchitis, and lung disease including pneumonia and bronchiolitis.
Dr Juliet Sutton, GP and Clinical Director for Children’s Services at NHS Buckinghamshire Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “Many children get their free flu vaccination every year, but we want to ensure even more are protected this winter. Flu transmits more easily in children, so by making sure all eligible children are vaccinated we can really reduce the spread. This will not only avoid an unpleasant illness for your child, but will help protect any vulnerable people that they come into contact with. This is vital with coronavirus still spreading, as studies have shown that people who catch both viruses at the same time are at even greater risk – particularly the elderly and vulnerable.”
Gareth Williams, Cabinet Member for Communities and Public Health at Buckinghamshire Council, said: “For most people the flu is a very nasty illness, but for the elderly or vulnerable, it can be life-threatening. This year, it is more important than ever that we do everything possible to keep each other safe and well, both from the flu and from the coronavirus. So please make sure your child has their flu vaccination this year– my own children will certainly be having theirs. This winter, more than ever, it could really save lives.”
Some parents may be concerned that coronavirus and flu symptoms are similar. If your child has a continuous cough, high temperature or a loss or change in their sense of taste or smell, they should be kept at home and a coronavirus test should be requested by calling 119 or going to www.gov.uk/getting-tested-for-coronavirus.
Schools have received guidance on signs and symptoms of coronavirus, which should have been shared with parents.
Children with pre-existing health conditions, even if well managed, are at higher risk of severe complications if they get flu. It is especially important that these children are vaccinated. Parents can contact their GP surgery to arrange an appointment.
Vaccination sessions will be held at schools during the autumn term for primary school-aged children and those in Year 7 at secondary school. Children who do not attend school will be invited to an alternative local venue. Please wait until an invitation and/or consent form is received and follow the instructions provided.
Parents of two-and three-year old’s should receive an invitation to have the flu vaccination at their GP surgery before the winter. If they haven’t heard from their GP by early November, they should contact the practice they are registered with directly to make an appointment.
Please go to our Ready for Winter page for more information on what you can do to prepare for the cold weather ahead and stay as healthy as possible.