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

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VACCINATED: Nimisha Lakhani has a long-term health condition ensures her family get the vaccine every year

VACCINATED: Nimisha Lakhani has a long-term health condition ensures her family get the vaccine every year

 

Over three million children are being offered the free flu vaccination this winter

Last year’s flu vaccine reduced the risk of flu in children by 65%

This year’s programme includes children in school year 4 for the first time

Public Health England (PHE) is encouraging parents and carers to help protect the three million eligible children from flu this winter.  

This year, the vaccine, administered in the form of a nasal spray, is being offered to 2–3 year olds, those in school years, 1, 2, 3 and for the first time, children in year 4.  Children aged over 4 in reception will also be eligible to have their vaccine done in school this year.  

New data published in August of this year showed that last year’s flu vaccine nasal spray reduced the risk of flu in vaccinated children by 65% across the UK last winter, meaning 65 children in every 100 were protected from flu.  

Flu can be very serious illness for little children. They have the same symptoms as adults –including fever, chills, aching muscles, headaches and a sore throat. Some children also develop a very high fever and complications such as pneumonia and bronchitis which may require treatment in hospital.

Nimisha Lakhani, a mother of three and has a long-term health condition, said: “I have severe asthma and getting the flu is really debilitating for me.

“I’m laid up in bed unable to move for at least a week so I make sure every year all my family get the flu jab including my children otherwise my condition would be worse.”

Dr Paul Cosford, Medical Director for Public Health England, said: “Young children’s bodies can find it hard to cope with flu, so it is especially important to protect them with the vaccine.

“The nasal spray is a quick, effective and painless alternative to needles. Once ill, children also tend to spread infection more to other vulnerable family members, such as grandparents, so protecting them is a good way to protect the rest of the family.  

“Getting the vaccine is the best way to help protect against catching flu. So I urge all parents whose children are eligible for the free nasal spray not to put it off. It’s free because your family needs it.”

Whilst seasonal flu can be an unpredictable virus, the vaccine is the best form of protection against flu. Vaccinating those who are most likely to suffer the worst from flu also offers a protective effect for the rest of the population by reducing the overall spread of the virus.  

The free flu vaccine is also available for pregnant women. Research shows that under half (48%) 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.  Mandira Bhimjiyani had the flu jab whilst pregnant, said: “When you’re having a baby, there are so many things to think about and prepare for, however making the decision to have the flu jab to protect my baby was an easy decision and one less thing for me to worry about.

“The vaccine protected me and my unborn child so I could focus on enjoying being a new mum. I would recommend the flu jab to other mums as not only is it free but it also quick and safe.”

Flu can be particularly dangerous for people 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. Vaccinating children, who are super-spreaders of the virus, can offer indirect protection to other, more vulnerable family members.  

Those who are eligible for a free flu vaccine should contact their GP, pharmacist or midwife now, for more information. Parents of children in reception and school years 1, 2, 3 and 4 are encouraged to give permission for their children to receive the free nasal spray vaccination.

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

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Stay well this winter – getting the flu vaccination

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Those at risk from the flu across the Yorkshire district are being asked to stay well this winter by getting their flu vaccination to protect themselves, and loved ones, this winter.

This year’s flu season has now started and those invited to get a flu vaccination, by their GP or employer, are being urged to take up the offer to prevent the spread of flu across the district.

GPs across the district are in the process of inviting people to have their flu injection. This includes all pregnant women, children aged 2 and 3, people aged 65 and over; and those with long term health conditions who are eligible.

People in the clinically ‘at risk’ groups are 11 times more likely to experience complications if they get the flu than a ‘healthy person’. This includes those suffering from heart, lung, liver, kidney, spleen or neurological diseases, diabetes, stroke or a lowered immune system.

Anyone with a BMI over 40 will also qualify for a free flu vaccination.

All parents and carers of two and three-year-olds are being asked to take a safe and effective nasal spray vaccine to protect them and help prevent the spread of flu to family members. School Children in Reception and school Years 1 to 4 will also be able to get the nasal spray vaccine as part of a schools vaccination programme.

If you haven’t received a letter or are a main carer of an older or disabled person you should contact your GP to check if you qualify.

Anita Parkin, Head of Public Health for Bradford Council, says: “If you receive a letter from your GP or employer, it’s because you need to protect yourself from the flu. Making an appointment to have a quick and simple vaccination is a lot quicker than suffering from the flu for several days.”

“It’s not just a cold. Flu is very contagious and can be a really serious illness. If you’ve been sent a letter it is because you are at higher risk from complications that can lead to hospitalisation, permanent disability or even death.

“Having your flu vaccine doesn’t just protect you; it helps stop the flu spreading to other people who may be even more vulnerable than yourself.”

Mary Law, Screening and Immunisation Manager at NHS England (West Yorkshire) said: “Even if you’ve already had a flu jab in previous years, you need another one this year. This is because the viruses that cause flu are always changing.

“We would particularly encourage older people, adults and children in at risk groups and mums-to-be to make sure they have their flu jab to protect themselves.

“For mums–to–be this protects themselves and their unborn babies as flu can lead to serious complications in pregnant women. National guidance states the vaccine is safe throughout pregnancy and can protect newborn babies up to about four to six months from birth.”

For most healthy people not in at risk groups, flu remains a mild illness and generally they will recover in a few days after getting lots of rest, drinking plenty of fluids and using over-the-counter remedies such as paracetamol.

You can also prevent the spread of the virus by always carrying a tissue and using them to catch coughs or sneezes, disposing of the tissue and then washing your hands.

If you aren’t getting any better then stay at home and call your doctor or call 111 for non-urgent medical advice.”

The vaccine for all children aged 2-17 is a safe and effective nasal spray which provides a more effective protection against flu vaccination in this age group. Children, who are allergic to eggs, have severe asthma or a severely weakened immune system will be offered an injection.

Selected local pharmacies are also offering the flu vaccination free to at risk groups who are registered with a GP. Anyone not at risk can also get the injection, although a charge will apply.

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Protect your kids this winter

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DOCTOR’S ADVICE: Dr Chintal Patel said that flu can be much more dangerous for children than parents realise

DOCTOR’S ADVICE: Dr Chintal Patel said that flu can be much more dangerous for children than parents realise

South Asian Parents urged to vaccinate their children against flu

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 two to four-year-olds, those in school years 1 and 2, and is being extended to school Year 3, helping protect more than four million children against flu – 600,000 more than last year.

But with a survey of parents of eligible children showing nearly four out of 10 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 per cent of parents understand the need for their children to be vaccinated every year, nearly one in eight have either never given vaccination any thought, or report that the main thing putting them off vaccination is that their children rarely get flu.

Neeshat Wadud, a new mum, said: “Being pregnant is a wonderful time, but it can also be worrying. Whilst trying to enjoy my pregnancy I had niggling concerns in the back of my head about all the things that might go wrong.

“When I was offered the flu jab, I did not hesitate to get it done. It was a relief to know that I could protect myself and my unborn baby from the often dangerous symptoms that flu can cause in pregnancy.”

Nearly a third of parents 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.

RECOMMENDS THE JAB: Neeshat Wadud was vaccinated during pregnancy to protect herself and her unborn baby

RECOMMENDS THE JAB: Neeshat Wadud was vaccinated during pregnancy to protect herself and her unborn baby

More than one in three parents 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 as bronchitis or pneumonia.

Children in the under-five age group are also 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, 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 the virus 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 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 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, said: “Flu can be much more dangerous for children than parents realise. Data shows that children under the age of five 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 two to seven to get their children vaccinated.”

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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