NHS Kernow and Cornwall Council Public Health are urging parents in Cornwall to make sure young children are vaccinated against flu, as this year’s national campaign gets under way.
The vaccination will be easier than ever this year in Cornwall, with all children in years one, two and three being covered for the first time by schools teams rather than having to go to their GP surgery.
Research shows that providing the vaccines in schools increases uptake and has the greatest impact on reducing illness. Vaccination for children is via a quick, effective and painless nasal spray.
This year’s wider national flu vaccination campaign also covers:
- younger children, aged two to four
- anyone aged six months to under 65 years in clinical risk groups*
- pregnant women
- all people aged 65 years and over
- people in long-stay residential care homes
- frontline health and social care workers, including general practice staff
The flu programme was launched today as part of the national Stay Well This Winter campaign. People under 65 years of age are eligible for free flu vaccination if they have:
- weakened immune system (eg HIV or cancer patients)
- heart disease
- chronic respiratory disease (eg severe asthma, COPD, bronchitis)
- kidney disease
- liver disease
- chronic neurological diseases such as Parkinson’s
- a learning disability
Vaccination is available from GP surgeries and, for those aged 18-plus in the eligible groups, from local pharmacies.
Flu can be a very unpleasant illness for adults as well as children, with symptoms including fever, chills and aching muscles and in some cases more serious consequences such as pneumonia and sepsis.
The vaccination also remains available free from GP surgeries for all children who were aged two to four on 31 August 2016.
Family GP and NHS Kernow Governing Body member Dr Francis Old is urging people in the at-risk group to make sure they arm themselves against the flu this winter.
He said: “Flu is not like a cold, it is potentially a really serious illness for some people, including older people; pregnant women; anyone with a long-term condition such as severe asthma, a chest or heart complaint or diabetes; or anyone with a lowered immunity.
“Flu can increase the risk of developing more serious illnesses such as bronchitis and pneumonia, and can make existing conditions much worse. In the most serious cases, it can land you in hospital and, even death.
“My advice is simple: if you’re in one of the at-risk groups, get yourself protected and get your free flu jab now. It’s safe, and doesn’t give you the flu. Call your GP and make your appointment now.”
Dr Caroline Court, Interim Director of Public Health for Cornwall and Isles of Scilly said: “I would urge parents to take flu seriously. Flu is passed easily between children, who are “super spreaders”, and can be a very unpleasant illness as they suffer the same symptoms as adults, including fever, chills, aching muscles and in some cases more serious consequences such as pneumonia and sepsis, which can be life-threatening.
“Reducing the chances of catching flu by vaccinating children could mean that parents and carers are less likely to need time off work, and will be less likely to suffer serious illness that requires attendance at the GP or in hospital. Young children are also much less able to maintain good hygiene when they are ill and so spread illnesses such as flu to carers and family members very easily.”