Parents urged to take young children for flu vaccine this winter

flujab

More from Medway Matters

Parents are being urged to get young children immunised against flu following a very low up take of the free vaccine in recent months.

In Kent and Medway, only 15 per cent of children aged two to four who have had the vaccine so far this winter, which is given in nasal spray form.

Last winter was the first time two to four year olds were routinely immunised against flu and figures for uptake this year are less than those in the same period in 2013.

People over 65, those with long-term medical conditions and mums-to-be also get the free vaccine and uptake is higher in these groups than in children. While this is positive, there is still some way to go to reach the 75 per cent target.

Medway Council’s Portfolio Holder in charge of Public Health Cllr David Brake said: “Young children can spread the flu virus very quickly, so by ensuring they don’t get the flu it also means parents and grandparents are less likely to become ill. Flu can be very serious for some people and the more vulnerable priority groups can end up in hospital.

“We want to avoid people getting the flu in the first place and make sure the virus doesn’t spread while we enjoy festive gatherings this Christmas.

“If you or your family are eligible for the free vaccine I urge you to take advantage of this and protect yourselves this winter.”

Cllr Mike O’Brien, Portfolio Holder for Children’s Services, added: “Very young children are being offered the free vaccine for a reason, it’s because they are one of the vulnerable, priority groups who could become seriously poorly if they got the flu. We need to see more two to four year olds having the vaccine this winter to ensure they stay safe and have a healthy, happy Christmas.”

The seasonal flu vaccine is one of the safest vaccines in the world and is given to millions of people in the UK each year. For more information contact your GP or visit http://www.medway.gov.uk

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