Children Offered Free Flu Vaccine As Part Of Biggest Ever Protection Programme
Children across West Sussex are being offered a free flu vaccination as part of the health service’s biggest ever flu protection programme.
The county’s public health teams hope to see an increase in the uptake of the nasal-spray vaccination among children aged two to three, as well as all schoolchildren from reception class to Year 6 who are considered ‘super-spreaders’ of the virus.
The uptake rate in West Sussex last year saw 48.9% of two to three-year-olds receive the nasal-spray vaccine, but this year’s national target is 50%. The vaccine is available from GP surgeries for children who were aged two to three-years-old on 31st August.
Record numbers of schoolchildren are also expected to be seen by NHS immunisation teams to exceed the 67.8% of the West Sussex school population who were vaccinated last year.
This year is the first time that all primary schoolchildren from reception class to Year 6 are eligible for a free nasal spray vaccine.
Anna Raleigh, Director of Public Health at West Sussex County Council, said: “People often associate flu vaccinations with older people, but young children are also particularly susceptible to the bug. I urge everyone entitled to a free flu jab to take advantage of it. Flu is highly contagious and spreads rapidly. Vaccination is the most effective way of protecting yourself and others from catching what can be a very serious and unpredictable virus.”
People aged over the age of 65, pregnant women and adults and children with underlying health conditions (especially heart and respiratory disease) continue to be eligible for a free flu vaccination.
The vaccine needs to be given every year because strains of the virus change from year to year.
Flu symptoms come on very quickly and can include
- a sudden fever – a temperature of 38C or above
- aching body
- feeling tired or exhausted
- dry, chesty cough
- sore throat
- difficulty sleeping
- loss of appetite
- diarrhoea or tummy pain
- nausea and being sick
Symptoms are similar for children, but they can also get pain in the ear and appear less active.
Colds are a different virus-they are less serious and usually start gradually with a stuffy or runny nose, and a sore throat. A bout of flu can be much worse than a heavy cold.
If you are eligible for your free flu jab, please contact your local GP surgery or participating pharmacy to get more information and book yourself an appointment.
You can find out if you are eligible and more information on seasonal flu at: www.westsussexwellbeing.org.